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McCain Makes Play for Clinton Supporters


From CBS News' John Bentley:

How angry are Hillary Clinton's supporters? Angry enough to leave the Democratic Party behind and vote for John McCain?

The presumptive Republican nominee certainly hopes so, and he has not been shy about making his pitch to Clinton voters. "There are many of Sen. Clinton's supporters who believe that I am by far the best qualified to secure this nation's future, who don't want us to sit down with Ahmadinejad and other tyrants," McCain said. "I think there's a lot of Sen. Clinton's supporters who will support me because of their belief that Sen. Obama does not have the experience or the knowledge or the judgment to address this nation's national security challenges when we're in two wars."

There is some polling evidence that suggests McCain may have a shot at picking up disaffected Clinton supporters. Over a quarter of Clinton voters said they would switch to McCain in the general election, according to a poll conducted by Gallup, which found 28% would leave the Democratic Party for the Republican candidate.

But those numbers could also be the byproduct of a long, fractious Democratic race between the Clinton and Obama. Whether those numbers will hold until November is debatable, but McCain is looking for support wherever he can get it, reaching out to Clinton supporters at the very beginning of his speech last night that kicked off his general election run. "As the father of three daughters," McCain said, "I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach."

The Republican Party says they have been hearing from unhappy members Clinton's camp. "Even our convention office in Saint Paul has received numerous calls in the last few hours from Sen. Clinton's supporters, asking how they can help Sen. McCain," said Matt Burns, the spokesman for the GOP convention in St. Paul.

If history is any guide, though, McCain shouldn't hold out hope for a quarter of Democrats to come rushing to the Republican Party. Four years ago, only 8% of Democrats defected from John Kerry to George Bush, and only 7% left Al Gore for Bush in 2000.

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