Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness
Presidential candidates from both parties usually sound hard-core in the primaries to appeal to their progressive or conservative bases. But for the general election, the nominees move to the center to pick off swing voters and centrist independents.
Voters put up with the scripted tactic as long as a candidate had not gone too extreme in the primaries and endorsed positions too far out of the mainstream.
A good example of this successful ploy was Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. In the primary against Hillary Clinton, Obama ran to her left. But he was still careful not to get caught on the record going too far left. That way, he was still able to tack to the center against John McCain in the general election.
As a general election candidate, Obama rejected the idea of gay marriage. He blasted illegal immigration. He railed against deficit spending. And he went so far as to label then-President George W. Bush as “unpatriotic” for taking out “a credit card from the bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt.”