McCain Aims for Bush Balance

Candidate needs prez on the right, but must pick his battles
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2008 4:35 PM CST
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shakes hands with President Bush after introducing him at the International Republican Institute dinner in Washington, in this May 18, 2005 file photo. Bush later received the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – In John McCain's delicate dance to unite his fractious party, one crucial step looms: How to best use the current Oval Office occupant in his quest to become the next. George W. Bush trumps McCain in shoring up conservative voters and raising money, but he's anathema to moderates and independents who gravitate toward the GOP frontrunner, reports the New York Times.

One adviser says the candidate needs to “stand in the sun” on his own, but Bush is a fundraising dynamo and remains popular among evangelicals who are cool toward McCain. Meanwhile, Democrats are already trumpeting the “Bush-McCain” ticket, attempting to link the presumptive nominee and the president, whose approval rating is near 30%.