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Roger Staubach Throws Hail Mary for McCain …

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… And I intercepted it, on the Web site, GOPUSA.com. It’s a fundraising advertisement for John McCain’s lagging presidential campaign. The next reporting deadline is Sunday, September 30, and McCain desperately needs a good showing to keep his hopes alive. Here’s the text:

Dear Fellow American,
When the clock is running down and the game is on the line, the team huddle is one of the most important parts of the game for a quarterback. It’s the last chance he has to pull his team together and inspire them to victory. As the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen, I learned early on that everyone in the huddle was looking to me to display confidence that we would win. They can see it in your eyes – and it’s often the difference between victory and defeat.

If you look in John McCain’s eyes, you see a man ready to win and confident in victory. He is a leader– focused on getting his message out and energized for this important stretch in the campaign.

The fourth quarter of this year is going to be the most important in this campaign. That’s why it’s important for us not to stand on the sidelines and watch – it’s time to get in the game right now. We can’t do our job in the fourth quarter unless we play hard in the third.

The end of the third quarter of this year on September 30th marks another important fundraising deadline, and it’s crucial that John McCain has the resources necessary to win heading into the final stretch of the campaign. Whether we like it or not the national press uses these fundraising numbers as a benchmark on how well the campaign is doing.

These next seven days are the last chance we have as a team of McCain supporters to huddle up and get ready for this fundraising deadline. And the most important way we can show our support for John McCain is by making an immediate online donation. I hope you’ll join me in making the most generous contribution you can to John McCain.

America is at a crossroads of an important moment in our history, and I know John McCain has the experience and vision necessary to lead our country.

I’m counting on you to respond to this email before this crucial deadline on September 30th. Please don’t delay in making your generous contribution using this secure online form.

The clock is ticking and we’re getting ready to make a final push to victory – will you join us?

At one time McCain appeared to be the frontrunner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. But he made a calculated decision to pander to the Reverend Jerry Falwell, whom he had called an “agent of intolerance” during the 2000 race for the Republican nomination. (Falwell died on May 17, 2007.)

This is what McCain said in 2000:

Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.”

McCain told ABC News at the time, “Reverend Falwell came to my office and said that he wanted to put our differences behind us. I was glad to do that.” He added, “I will continue to have disagreements with Rev. Falwell, and I hope that there will be areas where we can agree.”

But the “politics makes strange bedfellows” excuse failed, because McCain completely undercut the image he had so assiduously cultivated as a candid, straight-talking reformer. It hurt him more than his support for the Iraq war and for immigration reform has hurt him. At least these were principled beliefs. The rapproachment with Falwell came across as crass and expendient. Not long after his criticism of Falwell, McCain said on Hardball, “I must not and will not retract anything that I said in that speech at Virginia Beach. It was carefully crafted, it was carefully thought out.”

Here is another exchange, this one from a Meet the Press appearance in 2006, after McCain had agreed to speak at Liberty College. Host Tim Russert aired a film clip from the 2000 race:

MCCAIN: Governor Bush swung far to the right and sought out the base support of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Those aren’t the ideas that I think are good for the Republican Party.

Then Russert asked, “Do you think that Jerry Falwell’s ideas are now good for the Republican Party?

MCCAIN: I believe that the “Christian Right” has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they’re so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party. I don’t have to agree with everything they stand for, nor do I have to agree with everything that’s on the liberal side of the Republican Party. If we have to agree on every issue, we’re not a Republican Party. I believe in open and honest debate. Was I unhappy in the year 2000 that I lost the primary and there were some attacks on me that I thought was unfair? Of course. Should I get over it? Should I serve — can I serve the people of Arizona best by looking back in anger or moving forward?

RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

MCCAIN: No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain how his views on this program when you have him on.

I remember Roger’s first Hail Mary, to Drew Pearson against the Minnesota Vikings. I don’t think this one will be as successful.

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