Did McCain Win an Edge in More Than Just the Nomination Process?

McCain
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While it seems increasingly likely that the Democratic nomination won’t be decided until August in a dark back room filled with smoke, secret deals, power plays, bribery, blackmail, maybe some murder, and definitely maniacal laughter, the Republican nominee was pretty much crowned yesterday. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Mitt Romney announced to the crowd that he was bowing out of the race to unify the party and avoid a Democratic surrender to terrorists, throwing one last bone to the base before he departed (until 2012 or 2016). McCain took the stage as the Republican nominee, and he offered an olive branch that was generally well received by the suspicious audience. He’ll move forward with some advantages over his still-feuding Democratic counterparts, but his road to victory is still bumpy and strewn with intractable, cranky conservatives.

• John Harwood writes that McCain is now in a great position for the rest of primary season: He’ll no longer be attacked by the well-funded Romney but can still rack up victories and press by defeating the friendly, harmless Huckabee, who has his eyes on the VP slot. [Caucus/The New York Times]

• Mark Halperin says there are twenty things McCain can now do that his Democratic rivals can’t, including saving money, resting staff, and reading Alan Greenspan’s book. [The Page/Time]

• Jeanne Cummings reports that the Democratic machine is already in full-gear working on their McCain plan: label him as another Bush, a flip-flopper, and an economic neophyte. [Politico]

• Jim VandeHei has heard whispers that some GOP congressmen aren’t enamored of McCain and may sit out the general election. [Politico]

• And they’re not alone. Mona Charin writes that even now that McCain’s the presumptive nominee, many conservatives will refuse to vote him in in November. [National Review]

• Michael Scherer says that McCain will initially shift to the right to win over his base, instead of tacking to the middle, as nominees usually do. [Time]

• A new poll shows Obama beating McCain by seven in a general election match-up; Clinton and McCain are tied. [Time]

• But Patrick Ruffini thinks McCain will have a better chance against Obama than Clinton because he’ll have an easier time positioning himself as the stronger commander in chief. [Hugh Hewitt/Town Hall] —Dan Amira