Senator John McCain (R-AZ) worried to the Boston Herald Tuesday that the GOP primary is starting to resemble a “Greek tragedy,” due to the onslaught of attack ads and negative campaigning. Sen. McCain also believes that the debates are no longer useful and have become forums for rehash, personal attacks and bickering. Though there have not been more debates in this election cycle than usual, many viewers have expressed debate exhaustion, which indicates that McCain is correct. Additionally, the primary race has reached a bizarre point wherein much of the negative campaigning is concerning the negative campaigning. Though McCain still expressed confidence in Mitt Romney, whom he has endorsed, the former presidential candidate fretted about how many holes have been punched in Romney’s image by his primary competitors and their respective Super PACs.
A co-sponsor of the famed 2002 McCain-Feingold legislation to regulate campaign finance, McCain strongly disagrees with the influence of Super PACs over the U.S. elections system. “I predict to you there will be a major scandal associated with the Supreme Court decision on Citizens versus United [sic]. There is too much money washing around,” he opined while campaigning for Romney in January–despite the fact that Restore Our Future, the Super PAC aligned with Mitt Romney, spent over $11 million on television ads attacking Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich just in that month. The very public fears coming from GOP bigwigs like John McCain–along with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, all of whom have made public statements about the vicious atmosphere of the campaign–strongly suggest an attitude of pessimism among the Republican establishment regarding their chances in the November general election.
Of course, discord among the party establishment is the goal of many a Tea Party activist. Grassroots conservatives deeply dislike Romney, and challenging the power of the establishment is part of their greater strategy to sending a more conservative candidate to the convention in August. Weakness among moderates like Senator McCain will be well-received by the tea party, but their chances of pulling enough Independents in November to win the general election will be much slimmer if they succeed at replacing Romney with a more fringe candidate.