Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Guest commentary: Right On McCain: McCain's conservative record is excellent

by Sen. Jon Lyl (R.-Ariz.)

I have had the distinct pleasure of serving with Senator John McCain for the last 12 years in the U.S. Senate. Yet just as important to me as our shared years of service is our common respect for the conservative principles that have guided us in representing our state. That is why the characterization of John McCain as something other than a common-sense conservative is disturbing to me. Senator McCain’s detractors overlook his actual voting record of supporting conservative values.

During my time in the Senate with John McCain, we have cast the same vote nearly nine times out of ten. Whether in our efforts against inefficiency and waste in the federal budget, confronting the threat we face from international terrorism, protecting the sanctity of human life, or some other issue, Senator McCain has been loyal to, and a leader for, conservative beliefs.

Senator McCain is well known for his long history of protecting the interests of the American taxpayer. He is without question the best choice for voters opposed to wasteful Washington spending and bloated budgets. Last year, Senator McCain introduced the Pork-Barrel Reduction Act, a bill focused on transparency and fiscal restraint.

In 2005, Senator McCain and I were two of the four senators to vote against the pork-laden highway bill. During the 109th Congress, Citizens Against Government Waste gave McCain a 91 percent rating, and Pork Busters, a collaboration of fiscal-watchdog groups, labeled him as an “Anti-Pork Hero” in 2006. Conservatives should be outraged about the wasteful spending in Washington, and they should be exacting in their demand for a culture of fiscal restraint. John McCain meets this demand.

On the ever-important issue of life, Senator McCain has a record of voting for pro-life legislation: He has voted for bans on partial birth abortion; he has supported the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” and parental notification for minors; and he has voted against using federal money to distribute morning-after contraception in schools. He has repeatedly co-sponsored the Child Custody Protection Act, which prohibits the transportation of minors across state lines in order to circumvent state laws, requiring instead the involvement of parents in abortion decisions.

What do pro-abortion groups think of Senator McCain? NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood have both given him zero percent, no-confidence ratings because he has stood up against them for decades. John McCain’s opposition to abortion has been consistent.

Senator McCain also strongly believes in the institution of marriage. He voted for and supported the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of gay marriage and same-sex partner benefits. Senator McCain endorsed and campaigned for an initiative to amend the Arizona constitution to define marriage as between one man and woman.

The defining issue for any candidate who seeks the presidency next year will be that person’s vision for conducting the war against terrorists and our mission in Iraq; there is no one stronger on this issue, or with more credibility, than John McCain.His support for a safe and secure Middle East is well documented. And Senator McCain’s belief in the relationship between our eventual success in that region and our safety at home is one that I share.

Most conservatives believe in aggressive pursuit of terrorists and jihadists. But John McCain has been willing to put his political career on the line for the sake of his belief that these terrorists must be defeated. As the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain has long been an outspoken critic of the management of the war, and there is plenty to criticize on that score.

But Senator McCain has also been stronger than all others in his belief in the absolute importance of victory and in his own principled dedication to seeking peace and security over the political expediency of defeatism. Conservatives who believe deeply in the responsibility to defend our country know that no leadership trait is more vital to our next president. More than any other reason, this is why conservatives should support John McCain.

n matters of national security, he instinctively understands threats to the United States, and he knows what needs to be done about them. Even in the face of political adversity, he is unwavering in his commitment to America’s security.

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