Saxman trying to help McCain in his uphill presidential battle
Story by Chris Graham
Chris Saxman sees the political battle up ahead as “an uphill sled.”
But the Shenandoah Valley legislator isn’t one to shy away from a fight.
And no, I’m not talking here about his own dalliance with a run at the Republican Senate nomination in 2008.
“John McCain is an American hero. He has led an inspiring life, I think he is a solid conservative, I think he represents the best of politics. While you might not agree with him on some of the issues, he’s at least tried to tackle the issues. He hasn’t shied away from a fight. He’s trying to do what’s in the best interests of the country – which might not necessarily be in the best interests of his political future. And I think that’s admirable,” said Saxman, who confirmed last week that he will serve as the co-chair of the Arizona senator’s Virginia presidential campaign.
It will be a busy next few weeks for Saxman – who has set himself on a course for deciding whether or not to make a go at the Senate nomination in the next two or three weeks.
If he were to get into that race, he would be considered the upstart in a contest featuring former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore – who made his candidacy for the Senate nod formal yesterday.
McCain himself is an upstart in the ’08 GOP presidential race – after being considered an early favorite, he has fallen behind former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson in the national polls.
Saxman thinks McCain can pull it off – “I supported him in 2000 in the nomination process, and I sort of came back to, well, if he can stick it out for five and a half years being tortured, I guess I can stay with him through a nomination process when I honestly just flat-out believe in the man,” he said in an interview with The Augusta Free Press last week.
What Saxman believes in with McCain is what some consider to be his own best trait as a legislator and potential U.S. Senate candidate.
“He has a history of reaching across the aisle. He does have the ability and the experience and knowledge of how to get Democrats and Republicans to come together. And that’s not easy – believe me, that’s not easy in politics. But he believes it – he fundamentally believes it. And I think that’s going to come out in the end – and that’s what you want in a leader. If he can unite the country now, we’ll have accomplished a great deal,” said Saxman, whose own bipartisan bona fides include his chairmanship of the bipartisan House Cost Cutting Caucus in Richmond.
“I just think it’s common courtesy,” Saxman said of his own political approach. “There’s a political reality in everything. But if you’re going to talk bipartisanship, you’ve got to walk bipartisanship. And sometimes you’ve got to bite your tongue, but at the end of the day, to move the ball forward for the common good, you’ve got to think that in 40 years, no one’s going to remember me as a member of the House of Delegates or the state Senate or lieutenant governor or governor.
“It’s tough to go back to the ’60s and say, Who was governor or the delegate around here then? Let’s put things in perspective here. When you do that, you realize it’s really not about me – it is about we. And if you put we above me, you’re going to do pretty well in politics. But you can’t just say it – you really have to believe it. But some people talk it and don’t walk it – and the walking is the hard part,” Saxman said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.