By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Arizona GOP Senate primary candidate J.D. Hayworth slipped into Washington last night to meet with conservatives and pro-life advocates to generate interest in his bid to oust Sen. John McCain. "My avocation," he says, "is to unseat Mr. McCain and things are looking great."
The former House member met with House lawmakers, activist Bay Buchanan, the late Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation and Americans United for Life. While behind in the polls and fundraising, Hayworth has until late August to stabilize his campaign and beat McCain, who has responded with much sharper conservative rhetoric in recent weeks. One example: His "Complete the danged fence" ad that's been hit as a sharp turn away from his immigration reform proposals in the past.
Hayworth, who's proposals in Congress on immigration reform focused on enforcing current laws while McCain's suggested a path to citizenship for illegals laughed at the new McCain stance. "That thing was just hilarious," he said, adding that McCain is "contorting politically." But he liked the theme so much, that his campaign is going to put up a new website that they say will pit old McCain positions on key issues with what he's now saying on the campaign trail. He said it will be called something like: "TheDangedTruth.com."
Still, McCain aides say that unlike some Republicans who have been surprised this year by the intensity of the anti-incumbent movement, McCain has made key adjustments to stay ahead in public approval polling. But Hayworth sounds confident he can win and is already telling Washington associates that he plans to shake up the Senate with his outspoken and unscripted conservative agenda. "I can win this. This is not some impossible dream," he said.