Unbowed by Loss, McCain Fights for Moderate GOP

Senator fills leadership void with donations, endorsements, advice
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2009 7:26 AM CDT
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and actress January Jones meet on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, where Jones urged passage of the Shark Conservation Act of 2009.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
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(Newser) – Less than a year ago John McCain still hoped to be president, but the Arizona senator has a new mission now: reshaping the Republican Party around his own brand of moderate, pragmatic conservatism. While previous unsuccessful candidates for the top job have withdrawn after defeat, McCain is offering endorsements to center-right figures in primaries, raising money, and even hitting the campaign trail. "This is John's way of staying in the game," Sen. Lindsey Graham tells Politico.

Recently Rep. Mark Kirk, who's running for Barack Obama's old Illinois Senate seat, received encouragement from McCain and got his endorsement in the primary. Then McCain gave him far more: his donor database, advice from his strategist Steve Schmidt, and a cool $500,000 from a McCain-sponsored fundraiser. Kirk's delighted with his political godfather: "He told us that, with respect to my campaign for the Senate, what you need from us you will get."