Anheuser-Busch bid brewing trouble for McCain?

Spencer Platt/Getty Images As the general election heats up, John McCain is adamantly proclaiming himself a free trader while attempting to paint Barack Obama as a protectionist. But the attempted hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch by Belgain brewery InBev may place McCain in a precarious political position. McCain, who sided with the Bush administration during the ...

594407_080627_budweiser5.jpg
594407_080627_budweiser5.jpg

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

As the general election heats up, John McCain is adamantly proclaiming himself a free trader while attempting to paint Barack Obama as a protectionist. But the attempted hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch by Belgain brewery InBev may place McCain in a precarious political position.

McCain, who sided with the Bush administration during the Dubai Ports World controversy two years ago, has been mum on the issue so far. The spotlight instead has focused on his wife, Cindy, who owns beer distributor Hensley & Co. and some $1 million in Anheuser-Busch shares and would stand to benefit from a deal.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

As the general election heats up, John McCain is adamantly proclaiming himself a free trader while attempting to paint Barack Obama as a protectionist. But the attempted hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch by Belgain brewery InBev may place McCain in a precarious political position.

McCain, who sided with the Bush administration during the Dubai Ports World controversy two years ago, has been mum on the issue so far. The spotlight instead has focused on his wife, Cindy, who owns beer distributor Hensley & Co. and some $1 million in Anheuser-Busch shares and would stand to benefit from a deal.

With tradition and patriotism on one side, and financial gain and free trade principles on the other, McCain faces a tough choice. Although his reputation as a straight-talking maverick precedes him, I wouldn’t be suprised if politics won out, just as it did with McCain’s support of offshore drilling and Obama’s decision to forgo public campaign financing.

The reason? Missouri, which went Republican the past two presidential elections, could be in play this year. Missouri politicans from both sides are lining up against the deal, and saveAB.com, which has garnered over 59,000 signatures on its online petition offers the following message, dripping in election year rhetoric:

Like baseball, apple pie and ice cold beer (wrapped in a red, white and blue label), Anheuser-Busch is an American original. … With your help we can fight the foreign invasion of A-B. We will fight to protect this American treasure. We will take to the Internet, to the streets, to the marble halls of our capitals, whatever it takes to stop the invasion.

Stay tuned to see what McCain and Obama have to say. Anheuser-Busch has rejected the takeover bid, but don’t think InBev is going to give up without a fight.

Patrick Fitzgerald is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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