Local Politics

Conservative Blogger Takes on McCain

Armed with a pair of laptop computers, a Raleigh man is trying to shake up the Republican Party from his back porch.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Armed with a pair of laptop computers, a Raleigh man is trying to shake up the Republican Party from his back porch.

Although Arizona Sen. John McCain appears poised to claim the GOP nomination for president, conservatives in the party continue to criticize him as being too liberal on many social and fiscal issues.

A local husband, father and businessman who writes under the pseudonym "C. Edmund Wright" has joined in the chorus with his blog site, BeatJohnMcCain.com, which hammers the candidate on issues from taxes to terrorism.

"I'm not going to vote for a Democrat named John McCain simply because he has an 'R' next to his name on a voter registration card," Wright said.

His low-budget, tongue-in-cheek commentary reflects a rift in the GOP: conservatives who feel abandoned by party leaders in Washington, D.C.

"What's hurting the Republican Party is they're running a moderate," he said. "That's why we don't vote in large numbers because they're not connecting with us."

Wright, who favored former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and actor and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson before they dropped from the race, said he would vote conservative on state and local races. But he said he might skip the presidential race in November.

"When you don't vote for your Republican candidate, you fail to wash out a vote for a Democrat," North Carolina Republican Party Chairwoman Linda Daves said.

GOP activist Kieran Shanahan said McCain will have to work hard in the coming months to win over people like Wright, but he predicted that the party turmoil would fade eventually.

"There are more people in the middle these days than there are on the far ends of either party," Shanahan said.

McCain already is trying to woo visitors to BeatJohnMcCain.com, advertising on the site to lure visitors to his official campaign Web site.

"It's like making sausage," Shanahan said. "It's not pretty, but I do think at the end of the day, Republicans will get behind John McCain."

Wright said he believes McCain will get the nomination, but he predicted Republicans would face "a painful cleansing" in November to restore the power of the party's conservative base.

"I think we'll lose and it be necessary that we learn why we lost," he said.


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