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What would a McCain-Palin administration mean to the state?

It has been a while (1980 and President Jimmy Carter) since the Democrats’ nominee for President has outpolled the Republican contender, and it has not even been close. In 2004, President George W. Bush took 59.5% of the Mississippi vote, compared to Democrat John Kerry’s 39.8%.

Most polls have that trend holding this year. Republican Sen. John McCain is projected to be the solid winner in Mississippi over Sen. Barack Obama. Most projections have him pulling 50% or better of the vote.

So, if McCain were to be elected to the White House, what would it mean for Mississippi? The Mississippi Business Journal caught up with a few Mississippians to get their views on what a McCain presidency would mean for the Magnolia State.

Matching values

Many point to McCain’s stated values as a better match for Mississippians than Obama.

“John McCain and the Republican party believes in less government, lower taxes and people being able to control their own lives and destiny with as little government interference as possible. The party of free market principals, traditional values and personal responsibility and those are things Mississippians believe in strongly.”

“Sen. McCain shares the same philosophy and ideas of many Mississippians,” said Brad White, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party. “This is the most important decision Mississippi voters will make. There are two different candidates who want to take the nation in two entirely different directions.”

Military-minded

Another consistent reason given for believing McCain would be good for the state is his military background. The former U.S. Navy captain and Vietnam POW is a well-known supporter of the military, which could be a big plus for Mississippi’s important defense and aerospace industry, some believe.

Dr. Irene Orno-Bare, chair of the Department of Political Science at Millsaps College in Jackson, said, “A McCain presidency should witness an increase in defense spending, a consequence of his commitment to maintaining a heightened presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. With more than 1,600 defense contractors and some 26,000 defense employees, any increase in defense spending should benefit Mississippi.”

White pointed out that both President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush built up the military after cuts by prior Democratic administrations. He said he expects McCain to keep defense/military spending on the front burner.

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour said, “Senator McCain, whose family already has Mississippi roots, is the best choice for President for a number of reasons. In terms of national defense, I fear damaging cuts that would come from an Obama administration would adversely affect the thousands of Mississippi workers involved in defense-related construction. I know Sen. McCain, with his heroic military service, will be a strong advocate for national defense.”

Good for business

McCain’s backers also say the Arizona senator would be much more business-friendly than Obama. With recession and a financial crisis at hand, they say McCain’s experience is an important factor.

Barbour said McCain’s plan for the economy “will help, not hinder, the growth of small businesses and the millions of American jobs they provide. Sen. McCain recognizes that higher taxes and bigger government are the enemy of job creation and economic growth.”

White said, “John McCain understands government and how it works. There is not a problem that will hit him as president that he has not seen before.” He added that experience would serve Mississippi and the nation well during these troubling economic times.

Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant said, “America is dealing with major challenges at home with economic issues such as the increasing price of gasoline and other forms of energy, and John McCain has the right priorities when it comes to making the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil, and he also understands that higher taxes on Americans would only make the economic conditions worse. Also, our continued effort to stop terrorists abroad before they do harm within our borders can best be lead by John McCain because of his experience, expertise and leadership on foreign policy issues.”

Dr. Patrick Taylor, associate professor of economics at Millsaps, said, McCain’s stance on taxes is the better policy.

“Raising taxes, anyone’s taxes, in a recession is a bad idea,” Taylor said. “And I doubt either McCain or Obama will do that, though Obama says he will raise taxes on those at the top of the income distribution. If (Obama) is elected President and keeps to that plan, it will work to the detriment of efforts to keep the recession short and shallow. In that case, McCain’s plan to either keep current taxes or perhaps reduce them is a better strategy for dealing with the recession.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

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