Nowhere else in the country do voters know John McCain like Arizonans know John McCain.
Voters here have sent McCain to Washington, D.C., on their behalf five times since his first election to Congress in 1982. As much as an electorate can, we know this man.
We have seen the irascible McCain. The bawdy and irreverent McCain. And, yes, the temperamental McCain. Likewise, we here in Arizona have seen the former Navy pilot and war hero evolve - slowly and with lots of fits and starts - into a statesman.
We have witnessed John McCain become a leader - not only of a delegation from a fast-growing Southwestern state, but into a national leader with a reassuring habit of stepping to the front when things seemed most difficult.
Nobody in the country knows the Republican presidential candidate better than we do. And no one is better placed to judge whether he would serve honorably and admirably as president of the United States.
We are confident he will. The Arizona Republic proudly recommends John McCain for president.
Regarding foreign policy, no contemporary American statesman is more prepared than McCain to assume the mantles of first diplomat and commander in chief. In the tradition of Harry S. Truman, McCain already has demonstrated a willingness to let the buck of responsibility stop at his desk.
No one elected McCain to stand virtually alone against three administrations over their use of power overseas - against President Reagan's ill-fated decision to send Marines to Lebanon in 1983; against President Clinton's decision to send U.S. troops to Somalia in 1993; and against President George W. Bush's decision 10 years later to send insufficient troops to Iraq. He fought Republicans and Democrats over irresponsibly sending troops into harm's way, and he fought Republicans over their equally irresponsible refusal to send enough troops to do the job. In all three instances, history has proved (too often tragically) that McCain's judgment was right.
Even McCain mischaracterizes his noble willingness to stand up and stand alone. He contends it is the "maverick" in him. Well, he's wrong about that. It is the leader in him.
In truth, the son and grandson of war admirals was never a good fit for the go-along, get-along comity of the U.S. Senate. The nation simply has not had an opportunity to elect a president this well prepared - and this willing - to be a world leader since Dwight Eisenhower.
But as the Iraq war inches slowly toward peaceful resolution, domestic issues, notably the wrenching tumult on Wall Street and the economic woes it heralds, take center stage this election season.
If McCain were to do no more than to serve as a presidential protectorate of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, most of which never were made permanent, he would provide a boost to the nation's troubled economy. As the economy lurches and slows, business leaders already envision further drag - and an unnecessarily elongated recession - caused by the heavy anchor of higher taxes, should the Bush-era tax cuts be repealed.
The same concerns apply to the future of American free trade, a cornerstone of the nation's longest-ever period of economic expansion and wealth production. McCain is a stalwart advocate of free trade, while the rhetoric of his Democratic opponent strongly suggests to us that he is not.
Which brings us to our concerns regarding Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
No one will dispute that the Illinois senator's candidacy constitutes a historic moment in the life of this nation. In addition to his demonstrated capacity to help heal the greatest American wound, its racial divide, Obama has inspired millions of Americans to see anew the value of public service.
Still, in terms of experience, Obama is barely four years removed from the Illinois State Legislature. And even that thin record in public office is obscured to us by the senator's proclivity for voting "present," often on knotty issues like abortion. For a candidate seeking the world's greatest political challenge, Obama presents an extraordinarily lightly traveled trail.
Considering what we do know of his record, it is hard to envision Obama tamping down even the wildest leftist aspirations of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Obama's plan to reduce the taxes of "95 percent" of working families is most troubling. As many as 44 percent of "taxpayers" today pay no federal income tax at all. What Obama in fact is proposing is a direct transfer of wealth from top earners to those on the lower rungs. In short, he seeks to use the tax system as a revived form of welfare.
John McCain joins hands with Barack Obama and other Democrats on numerous important issues. They are scarcely apart in their personal judgments about how to resolve illegal immigration.
They speak virtually in one voice regarding the environment and the dangers of global warming. But McCain's support for a wide array of energy sources, including expanding domestic-oil production and building nuclear-power plants, is considerably more credible than Obama's.
McCain speaks with a voice of credible authority.
It is not as mellifluous a voice as Obama's. But it is a voice we in Arizona know well. It is one we trust.
The Republic recommends John McCain for president of the United States.
I love living in AZ.