The big South Carolina news of the morning was Sen. Tom Coburn's endorsement of Sen. John McCain. Says Jonathan Martin:
Who else, btw, besides McCain could have Tom Coburn and Joe Lieberman in South Carolina stumping for him at the same time?
Romney's folks will dismiss it all as so much Washington'ness, but what the three have in common is that none are beloved by their own party.
By their party, yeah… but early last year I had conversations with anti-pork, anti-spending types—the kind of people who bankroll the Club for Growth's occasional jihads—who dearly wanted to draft Coburn. The only one who went on the record with me was Stephen Moore.
"I've urged Tom to run for president," says former Club for Growth chief Stephen Moore, who now is an editor at the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. "I think he could do quite well. He could win primaries. I don't think he's going to do it, of course. But if he did…it would shock people. He would be the Steve Forbes or the Pat Buchanan candidate of 2008."
They floated this rumor as late as May, then it sort of petered out, mostly because Coburn would rather chew Ted Stevens' tie than mount a presidential bid. And he has a list of inflammatory comments (mostly from his first political career in the House, from 1995-2001) that would come up again and (as happened when I spoke to him last year) tick him off royally. They would, though, make him a household name… which he isn't right now. The utility of this endorsement seems to be to draw warmth from the conservative press, to build up that maverick cred, and to demonstrate how ding-dong-dead Fred Thompson's campaign is.