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GOP Veepstakes: Political Positioning or a Fundamental Rebranding?

The news that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention -- broken by the lovely and talented Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press -- coupled with John McCain's repeated refusal to rule out picking a pro-choice running mate has stirred a debate within Republican circles over whether the Arizona senator is seeking to radically rebrand the GOP before November or simply bowing to the difficulties presented by the current political environment.

While McCain has built his political reputation on his willingness to go against his own party, he has never even hinted at a break with Republican orthodoxy on a matter this dear to the hearts of the party's conservative base.

In fact, during an appearance with Rick Warren in California last weekend, McCain reasserted his commitment on life issues: "I will be a pro-life president and my administration will have pro-life policies," McCain said in a line that drew considerable applause from the audience at Warren's Saddleback Church.

And yet, McCain continues to pass on attempts to shut down talk that he is seriously considering former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge (R) and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) -- both of whom favor abortion rights -- as his vice presidential running mate.

On Wednesday in an appearance with conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, McCain sidestepped the chance to rule out a pro choice running mate. "The one thing I can't do Laura and I'll talk about anything you want to but the process that we're in," said McCain. Although Ingraham pressed the matter, McCain would not budge; "I can't talk about it because if I do I would get down a slippery slope," he said.

What gives?

Theories abound. Some believe that McCain wants to completely overhaul the definition of what it means to be a Republican. Other suggest McCain is simply adopting a survival mentality in a brutal national political environment. Still others argue all of the talk of a pro-choice running mate is simply a grand feint by the McCain campaign designed to rally the base behind him when he picks a pro-life vice presidential nominee.

"The media is making a mistake trying to narrow the issue of VP selection to pro-choice or pro-life," said Dan Hazelwood, a Republican direct mail consultant. "That is a vast over-simplification typical of the punditry. The public will fit the selection into a much broader context. That is what the McCain campaign is correctly focused on: how the running mate fits into the context of their campaign."

Let's unpack the theories one by one.

The first -- and to our mind least likely -- scenario is that McCain views his position as the Republican presidential standard-bearer as an opportunity to break from the party's focus on social conservatism shepherded in by former President Ronald Reagan.

While there are clearly some elements within the GOP who believe the party's close association with socially conservative positions on certain social wedge issues is outdated (California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and, to a lesser extent, Giuliani), McCain is not one of them. He is an unapologetic Reagan conservative and, in truth, his record has always been cast as more liberal -- particularly on social issues -- than it actually is, a lingering remnant of his 2000 primary clash against George W. Bush.

McCain has clearly run afoul of social conservatives in recent years due to his ardent advocacy for campaign finance reform, a measure that greatly restricts the activities of a number of grassroots organizations focused on life issues. But, since there has never been any real debate during McCain two-plus decades in public life about where he stands on abortion, it's hard to imagine his consideration of a pro-choice running mate as a first step in a fundamental rebranding of the party.

The far more likely reason for McCain's willingness to consider people like Ridge and Lieberman is the desire to win.

Republicans have not faced such a challenging national political atmosphere in decades and the McCain inner circle may well have adopted the attitude that every potential strategy is fair game give the incredible environmental challenges that confront the Arizona senator.

This survival theory is the one to which most in the Republican political professional class ascribe to. In the words of one prominent Republican strategist, "One should NOT consider McCain's potential decision to select a pro-choice running mate as an effort to re-brand the party. The party IS pro-life, and we generate a significant amount of enthusiasm among the rank and file based on that issue position. Rather, McCain picking a pro-choice running mate has only to do with his effort to win election, not to re-brand the party."

Both Ridge and Lieberman make sense as purely political picks.

Ridge's roots in Pennsylvania -- he served two terms as governor and represented the state in Congress -- would almost certainly help McCain more competitive in the Keystone State and his background as Vietnam veteran and former head of the Department of Homeland Security would allow the Republican ticket to double down on national security matters.

Lieberman was, until the 2006 election, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat -- even serving as then Vice President Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential election. Lieberman has grown increasingly alienated from his former party over the war in Iraq but if McCain named the Connecticut senator as his vice president, he could legitimately make the case that it was tangible evidence of his commitment to bipartisanship.

All of that speculation brings us to the final theory: that all of this talk about a pro choice running mate is a well-executed head fake by the McCain campaign designed to throw reporters off the scent AND lower expectations in the base of the party.

For The Fix's part we still believe the most likely scenario is that McCain goes the "traditional" route and selects Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- a down-the-line Republican who checks all the boxes when it comes to social and fiscal conservatism.

Picking Pawlenty after considering the likes of Ridge and Lieberman would almost certainly be greeted with a huge sigh of relief among social conservatives. And, would that phenomenon have occurred if McCain never weighed a pro-choice mate?

Our sense is that McCain is currently weighing just how bad the political environment is for Republicans nationally. The worse he sees the environment, the more likely McCain feels compelled to go with a candidate like Ridge or Lieberman who might anger the base but also gives him a solid case to make to moderate and independent voters.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 21, 2008; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008 , Veepstakes  
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Next: Wag the Blog: Does Obama Need Clinton on Ticket?

Comments

Chris:

Are we supposed to give our picks for VP here or what? My last posting on May 9, I picked Biden and Cox. Got Biden right, but it won't be Cox, it will be Huckabee. Really. Sorry for the late change, I expect full credit.

Posted by: Tyler Durden | August 26, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Chris:

Are we supposed to give out picks for VP here or what? My last posting on May 9, I picked Biden and Cox. Got Biden right, but it won't be Cox, it will be Huckabee. Really.

Posted by: Tyler Durden | August 26, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

c595t

Posted by: ma99zda | August 23, 2008 4:05 AM | Report abuse

I concur that John McCain could damage the thought of Obama being the next US President with a selection of Condoleeza Rice. Condi said a few weeks ago that she is NOT interested in the role of US President. But would entertain the idea of VP "if asked." She is most definately needed to win the women's votes, since Hillary is gone from the remote possibility of becoming US President. Condi is needed to win the large States also. McCain needs to select a minority running mate to even out the equation. This is just common sense in the political realm.

I am a staunch GOP and believe there is a way for McCain to win: minority running mate.

Condoleeza Rice is the "most powerful" women in the entire world according to the most recent Forbes 100 report. For the past 5 years, she has been in the top 5 spots with her "eminent" power.

Put youself in McCain's shoes. Who would you "need" to pick to win the election? You are close friends with Joe Biden and share tenure in political office equivalent with Biden. A younger experienced Senator or Speaker of the House should put you in the White House.

Posted by: Greg Danko | August 23, 2008 3:04 AM | Report abuse

The democrats have so much white guilt -

they want to nominate a black so badly -


that they jumped at Obama who has no experience, no economic experience except buying cocaine -


AND the democrats have not noticed yet that Obama is a Black Muslim whose father was a Socialist and Obama is probably a great deal closer to being a Socialist himself than most people imagine.

.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Why is Obama ditching his vp pick on a Friday afternoon - a traditional day on which bad news is dumped in hopes that no one will notice in the runup to a Sunny Beautiful Weekend when no one is watching?

.

Posted by: 37th&OStreet | August 22, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

A Fundamental Rebranding of the Republican Party is underway.

The democrats are old and tired - Obama'a website is filled with new programs which will require more and higher taxes.

McCain is the Real Deal - McCain has the nomination and is changing the Republican Party changes which will last for decades.


.

Posted by: 37th&OStreet | August 22, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The only important VP choice is the one Barack will make. It will be Biden and the Democrats will go on to victory in November.

It will be interesting to actually see if McCain has the, "balls" to go against the "Rush Limbaugh's" of his sick party.

On the question of wife battering, I believe McCain does have that kind of behavior in his history.

Posted by: Reggie Boykins | August 22, 2008 4:24 AM | Report abuse

A co-worker of mine said she heard that John McCain broke Cindy's hand and that he has battered her before. Has anyone else heard this? I also have heard that he's called his wife the "c" word in public.

Posted by: Hilary Smith | August 22, 2008 4:17 AM | Report abuse

McCain poll numbers have been less than Senator Obama for a long time. Then McCain starts lying and keeps lying and gets the buffoons fired up. The lies won't work on any of us sick to death of Bush, Cheney, McCain and the republican party of corruption, greed and hatefulness. Republicans know what to spew but when it comes to doing the right thing they never, never, never do it. They are bought and paid for by corporate interests who run our government and only for their own fortunes. We are sick of them and sick of all of you who will vote for an old lying republican who will not change things for the better. Privatizing social security, starting the draft, that is what people can look forward to with McBush, and more war.

Posted by: Vicki | August 21, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Clinton supporters are betraying the nation. They will not give up on her even though we were all giving up on all the other candidates as they left one by one. Senator Obama won because he is special. He won because he is the future and not the past. If Democrats who are racists or just dirty rotten republicans vote for McCain they do not care about the country, and they do not care about anyone but themselves. It is bigger than you, it is the difference between continuing republican failure and suffering for the country, or a chance for all things to get better and America again be a place that has hope.

Posted by: Vicki | August 21, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

there may be hell to pay with or without Obama....his own are turning on him

http://www.black-and-right.com:80/2008/08/18/obama-win-or-lose/


http://www.atlah.org/broadcast/ndnr07-28-08.html

Posted by: rtfanning | August 21, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Does it concern anyone that the Obama's sat in a church for 20 yrs that was based on the writings of James Cone, the founder of Black Theology?

Everyone should read "A Black Theology of Liberation" before making a final decision.

Posted by: E M | August 21, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

If Senator McCain picks a Social Liberal as his running mate, he runs the risk of a revolt at the Republican convention. We might even see an alternative nomination like Mitt Romney for President come to the floor. The delegates can still vote for anyone they want, and only 20% of Republicans are excited about McCain. Will he take such a risk?

Posted by: Mike Smith | August 21, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

TO: DDAWD at 2:03 p.m.

Your juvenile name-calling qualifies you for "disinfo" world, but you knew I'd say that. Have a sensational day.


Posted by: scrivener | August 21, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Charles, the RNC version of that list is funnier and has some actual criminals on it. But nice try - maybe Aspertwit will throw you one for free.

Posted by: The Village to Charles: we want our idiot back | August 21, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Clearly asper and I have different standards. She likes the one liners, the campaign slogans and the person who promises to destroy "evil". Give me the nuance and someone who realizes the world isn't in black and white. I'll take someone who works through the complex issues.

Yeah, asper and I choose to have different standards for what we call performing well. Its just that her standards are patently stupid and go to demonstrate the simplicity of her mind and inability to grasp complex concepts.

Posted by: DDAWD
********************
Man, you are good. I just think Aspertwit is the Webster definition of a jacka$$ and leave it that. Is she still peddling her birth certificate "findings"?

Posted by: 2008 | August 21, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Following is the list of keynote speakers and topics at the upcoming Democratic Convention:

Marion Barry --- Drug Abuse

Rep. Denny Kucinich --- How to garner 1 % of the vote in every primary entered

Sen. Chrissy Dodd --- Obtaining Countrywide loans

Sen. Chucky Schumer --- How to initiate a run on a bank

Jesse Jackson ---- Marital fidelity and Castration

John Edwards ---- Ambulance Chasing and Spousal support in time of need

Sen. Theodore Kennedy --- Driver education and How to stop a pending autopsy

James McGreevey ---- Gay rights

Mayor Ray Nagin --- Emergency evacuation preparations

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick – Email etiquette in the workplace

Al Sharpton ---- Race relations

Sen. Evan Bayh --- How to ignore the Liberal wing of the Democratic Party and support the war in Iraq

Al Gore --- Snow Removal

Louis Farrakhan --- Muslims in America and Muslim in the White House

Posted by: Charles | August 21, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

You have to laugh. The GOP has been completely ineffectual in actually creating pro-life law, but they use it as a "branding" device to "generate a significant amount of enthusiasm among the rank and file"--meaning, "millions in donations from the passionate and stupid."

Posted by: dfc102 | August 21, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"WHY THE HELL IS MITT ROMNEY NOT THE LEADING CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT IN THIS COUNTRY? "

I actually kind of liked him until he started acting like a jackass in the primaries. Universal health care? He did it in Massachusetts.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 21, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Pro-choice VP - simply a head fake to try and build some drama.

Lieberman - maybe a finalist for show, but: Jew - out. Besides he's lost as VP once before - bad mojo.

Which social conservative will he pick: the tall one or the short one? I can hardly breath for the tension.

Posted by: NoOneImportant | August 21, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who is doing a TOTAL REASSMENT OF THE QUALIFIED TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT CANDIDATES? MY GOD! WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I JUST LOOKED AT MITT ROMNEY'S RESUME, HIS LIFE, HIS DOUBLE JD/MBA FROM HARVARD AT THE TOP OF HIS CLASS, HE GRADUATED NUMERO UNO FROM BRIGHAM YOUNG UNDERGRAD! HIS PERFECT SCORE ON THE SAT! HE WAS CEO OF THE WINTER OLYMPICS, HAS MASSIVE CEO CREDENTIALS, WAS THE GOV. OF MASS, THE SON OF THE GOV. OF MICHIGAN, HE HAS 5 SONS, MARRIED HIS HS SWEETHEART WHO HAS MS, NO PERSONAL ISSUES, MODERATE POLITICAL VIEWS

I ASK MY FELLOW AMERICANS! WHY THE HELL IS MITT ROMNEY NOT THE LEADING CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT IN THIS COUNTRY? I'M A DEMOCRAT WHO WOULD GLADLY VOTE FOR THIS ENORMOUSLY ACCOMPLISHED, NOT TO MENTION EXCEEDINGLY TELEGENIC MAN FOR PRESIDENT! MITT ROMNEY, PEOPLE DON'T KNOW YOU-THEY NEED TO GET TO KNOW YOU, BECAUSE YOU OUTSHINE ALL OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES, LEAVE THEM ALL BEHIND IN THE DUST!

Posted by: SPRING RAIN | August 21, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Dear DCH, What does the post have to do with the VP Sweepstakes in Denver?
The only sure thing in life is death.

Obama has lost his franchise mutiny is brewing. "What will happen when he loses in DENVER" is a question no one is asking.
If Barack Obama Loses
We all know what it takes to piss off some in a city. Even congresswomen can instigate a crowd, chanting “No justice, no peace”.

I lived in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riot which was kind of intense. Everyone was on edge, parts of the city were burning, there was a sunset-to-sunrise curfew, and most people were praying some minor incident didn’t set something off in an adjacent neighborhood.

If Barack Obama loses, the template has already been created.

As of today, Hillary Clinton’s supporters are claiming her nomination was “stolen” from (her and) them. That excuse is now quite typical whenever a liberal loses. Can you imagine what’ll happen if Obama loses? It won’t be because McCain garnered more votes. It won’t be because he was considered more experienced and the American people wanted an adult in the Oval Office. It won’t be because he laid out a more detailed vision for the United States, as opposed to “change”, “hope”, tax the rich and oil companies, and stop the oceans from rising.

It’ll be because white America was too racist to elect a black man. Every vote for McCain will be compared to a baton strike on Rodney King’s upper body. Every Electoral College vote will be like the sting of the lash on the back of every black person in America.

The Man will have won again. The black man will have been put back in his place. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will be interpreting this as the need for a new civil rights movement. Rappers will be inspired to created tracks instructing the young to burn down America. Rabid inebriated college students will have yet another reason to work off the binge, while also protesting the inherent American racism their professors preached about for years.

If the videotaped beating of a drunk and stoned black man, apprehended after a high-speed chase, can start a riot in a major metropolitan city, just what do you think could happen if a black presidential candidate is beaten by an old, white, Vietnam vet on national television live?

We are again talking about people we raised, giving them everything they wanted, when they wanted it.

Well, now they want Barack Obama, and whether they get him or not, there may be hell to pay.

http://www.black-and-right.com:80/2008/08/18/obama-win-or-lose/
http://www.atlah.org/broadcast/ndnr07-28-08.html


Posted by: rtfanning | August 21, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

scrivener, you are a sensationalist piece of garbage.

There, it just needed to be said.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 21, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"And how empty and phony do you have to be to not do well in such an interview?"

No, he did great at the interview. His answers were well thought out and nuanced.

Clearly asper and I have different standards. She likes the one liners, the campaign slogans and the person who promises to destroy "evil". Give me the nuance and someone who realizes the world isn't in black and white. I'll take someone who works through the complex issues.

Yeah, asper and I choose to have different standards for what we call performing well. Its just that her standards are patently stupid and go to demonstrate the simplicity of her mind and inability to grasp complex concepts.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 21, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

TOP TEN WAYS TO TELL YOUR ELITIST NOMINEE IS SLIDING IN THE POLLS

His trailing average numbers get lower on Monday

His trailing average numbers get lower on Tuesday

His trailing average numbers get lower on Wednesday

His trailing average numbers get lower on Thursday

His trailing average numbers get lower on Friday

Saturday papers are full of comments that the candidate's sliding in the polls

Sunday papers are full of articles wondering why the candidate's sliding in the polls

His trailing average numbers get lower on Monday

His trailing average numbers get lower on Tuesday

His trailing average numbers get lower on Wednesday

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

All of these theorys are great. But in the interest of speculation, I'll add another. In accordance with the recent national political maps Virginia may be the critical state to decide this year's Presidential election. Va. is traditionally a conservative state but has recently trended democrat. Va. Senior Senator John Warner is the most popular politician in the state, and endorsed McCain early on in the primaries. Being that he stumps for McCain hard, McCain should have an edge. However, if Obama & McCain believes Virginia is the key state to winning the election they both may pick players from Va. Va. Governor Tim Kaine has long been a-top Obama's list. McCain is being rumored to be giving serious consideration to Va. US Rep. minority whip Eric Cantor. He is a big part of bringing home the bacon to Va. and would be received well there statewide. Could it be a McCain/Cantor vs. Obama/Kaine Presidential race decided in Va.?

My analysis: McCain could still win if he picked Pawlenty & Va & Minn. flipped. Yet, that would still be advantage Obama as Va. is worth 13 EV & Minn. is worth 10 EV. Montana could also be a big prize in November, and is tied right now: McCain 47%-Obama 47%. I am unsure who really has the advantage at this point. What a race!

Posted by: reason | August 21, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice to live the life of John McCain? Not having to work a moment (except to divorce his first wife and marry a rich heiress) of his life to get his hands on a multi-million dollar fortune? And to live like this:

John McCain, by marrying the daughter of a rich business magnate, is worth up to $100 million! (And he's still taking in $56,000 in Navy pensions!) Fabulous!

The McCains have seven, that's right, at least seven different multi-million dollar properties, including luxury condos in California and Arizona! That's so many, that you can forgive them for sometimes forgetting how many houses the they own or even to pay their property taxes! Of course, being so rich means never having to lift a feather duster -- the McCain spend almost $300,000 on household staff.

And how do you jet around to these various luxury homes (and campaign events?) By private jet, of course! I mean, c'mon, as Cindy McCain says, it's the ONLY way to get around her state!

So how should a rich jet-setter like the McCains dress? Only in the finest European clothes. Escada suits at $3,000 a pop for her! Salvatore Ferragamo 'Pregiato' loafers at $520 a pop for him! Dressing like the richest European aristocrats!

How to ring up all these wonderful riches? When you've got $100 million and up in the bank, the credit card companies don't mind if you ring up a $100,000 credit card bill. They know you're good for it!

What a fabulous life for the McCains! No wonder John McCain thinks you need $5 million to be rich, and just thinks that concerns for the economy are just psychological! Times are tough for many Americans, but not John and Cindy!

In fact, I hear they're looking to move into another property in Washington, D.C. A perfect place to make sure their ultra rich life is improved by nice tax breaks for the ultra rich!

Posted by: poor little rich boy | August 21, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

AsperGirl
Oh, my little AsperGirl
I'll be true to you

You were my first love
And you'll be my last love
I will never make you blue (so true!)
I'll be true to you
In the whole world
You can love but one boy
Let me be that one boy
For I'll be true to you

Wherever you go
My heart will follow
I love you so
I'll be true to you
Take my love with you
To any port or foreign shore
Darling you must feel for sure
I'll be true to you

AsperGirl
Oh, my little AsperGirl
I'll be true to you.

Posted by: Doug in NYC | August 21, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Aper-Girl:

I'm rooting for Obama -- to go no farther than VP. So I'm hardly one of the blind faithful.

But now you are truly casting ASPER-tions.

He doesn't have a "religion" problem. He has an emoting problem. He can't relate. He can't connect. And he can't commit (to principles and positions).

That's why he can't win.

But get off the religion litmus test. You're just playing into the hands of the self-sanctimonious right.

You're sounding very "disinfo," as the disinfo spooks say. Et tu, Aspergirl?

Posted by: scrivener | August 21, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA'S HIDING SOME KIND OF RELIGION PROBLEM

I just realized that Obama's got some kind of religion problem that he's hiding. This is the second time he's performed poorly when questioned about his religion and that he's reacted by attacking the forum or rival.

How do you cheat on a forum where the questions are about who you are, what ideas you believe in, and what your defining life experiences are?

And how empty and phony do you have to be to not do well in such an interview?

The Obama campaign is attacking McCain with accusations of cheating, just like they accused Stephanopolous at the ABC News debate for setting Obama up with questions about Rev. Wright that everyone was wondering about anyways. They attack with accusations of cheating or a setup because there's no excuse for not performing well on questions of that nature.

The only reason for Obama's poor performances both at Saddleback and the late-primary ABC News debate, is the reason that is the obvious conclusion: Obama's got a religion problem. He stumbled and was lame in trying to answer Stephanopolous's questions about Rev. Wright and Trinity Church (where he claimed he was unaware of what was being preached there for 20 years) and he prevaricated, waffled and groped around when answering direct Warren's questions about what he believes in and what his defining life experiences are. Then afterward he goes on the attack, accusing Stephanopolous of setting him up and McCain of cheating.

Obama's got some kind of pervasive religion/faith issue that he's been trying to cover up and that he is defensive about.

There's something wrong with him, not sure what, yet.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

A CILLIZZA-INSPIRED SONG CONTEST...

Okay, which Hillarian here will be the first to write the new '08 lyrics to "Eve of Destruction" (a contest inspired by Chris' "ga-ga for music" blog)?

Maybe Chris will pony up a T-shirt to the winner...

Just to be fair, maybe he can make the same offer to the poster who comes up with pro- McCain lyrics to that Sixties agitprop classic, "Ballad of the Green Berets."

As Cillizza says, "To the line!"

Posted by: scrivener | August 21, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

AsperGirl,

It's not that Obama didn't do well, it's that he didn't pander.

John McCain spent his hour telling the religious right exactly what they wanted to hear.

"I was a POW...blah,blah,blah."

"Judeo-Christian, blah, blah, blah."

"At the time of conception, or soon after..." Never minding that there's no way for him to know that with such certainty. Once again, I pivot back to the dangers of someone whose lack of humility is so great that he thinks that he knows the Truth.

He knows full well that he has to get that voting bloc to the polls. So he gave them exactly what they wanted.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

At least Barack Obama is looking for the answers. At least he's got some level of intellectual curiosity.

Beats the heck out of listening to John McCain tell us that he knows what to do, because he has an anecdote.

Well, his stories won't put food on our tables, or gas in our cars. If he thinks that he can run a country on stories, why doesn't he try Fantasyland?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

>>can I get back to waffling now? wrote: "The following day, on "Meet the Press," NBC's Andrea Mitchell said some "Obama people" suggested that McCain heard the questions in advance because he "seemed so well-prepared.""

How do you cheat on a forum where the questions are about who you are, what ideas you believe in, and what your defining life experiences are?

And how empty and phony do you have to be to not do well in such an interview?

The Obama campaign is attacking McCain with accusations of cheating, just like they accused Stephanopolous at the ABC News debate for setting Obama up with questions about Rev. Wright that everyone was wondering about anyways. They attack with accusations of cheating or a setup because there's no excuse for not performing well on questions of that nature.

The only reason for Obama's poor performances at Saddleback and the late-primary ABC News debate is the reason that is the obvious conclusion: Obama's an empty suit, a phony and (at least where his Pastor and Trinity Church was concerned) a hypocrite.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

That was scrivener at 12:18.

Posted by: scrivener | August 21, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

(corrected post:)

RTFANNING HAS IT RIGHT. READ HIS POST MULTIPLE TIMES, OBAMANISTS.
THEN AWAIT THE HILLARY ROLL CALL 'PUTSCH'

• And the Obama camp threatens to reduce superdelegate power? On the "Eve of Destruction"?


There's really a much simpler explanation as to why McCain may select a pro-choice moderate:

He figures that Hillary or Al Gore is going to be on the ticket -- perhaps at the top of the ticket -- with Obama the VP nominee as his not-too-shabby consolation prize.

A poster here, I think it was Dexter Manley from Panama but I could be wrong, reminded us the other day of that meeting at Diane Feinstein's house between Barack and Hillary. The poster also speculated that perhaps the GOP had an "inside line" to what was discussed at that meeting (that's his speculation; I'm just a reporter here).

At that meeting, the candidates may have decided that whoever wins in the end, the other will get the VP pick. That would explain the delay in Obama making his VP announcement (which may end up being just a smokescreen to keep the backroom deal a surprise).

McCain realizes the juggernaut that would be spawned by a Clinton-Obama ticket (or, if you accept my theory, a Gore-Obama ticket brokered by Hillary, who would then be the Dems' kingmaker who recaptured the DNC and saved the party from defeat).

As the power behind the throne, Hillary could then head back victorious to the Senate, where she would surely become the majority leader as she awaits her Supreme Court appointment.

Obama's people make yet another under-reported strategic blunder the other day: They let it be known that they want to change the DNC rules with the intent of reducing the power of the superdelegates in future election cycles.

Why would they say that now, just before the supers are about to wield their big stick? Talk about putting a fork in it!


BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not when government-supported "vigilante injustice" squads are "gang stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/get-political-vic-livingston-opinion-expose-state-supported-vigilante-squads-doing-domestic-terrorism

WHAT IF THEY COULD SHOOT YOU
WITHOUT LEAVING A TRACE? THEY CAN.
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/zap-have-you-been-targeted-directed-energy-weapon-victims-organized-gang-stalking-say-its-happening-usa-1

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

as opposed to knowing nothing about anything. hmmmmmm

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

There you go, patting John McCain on the back for answering questions that he can't possibly know the answers to.

When does a fetus have human rights? No need to ask God, John McCain knows.

Why bother praying at all? After all, McCain knows the answers to everything, right?

In fact, he really doesn't need a staff or a cabinet, does he? He already knows everything.

Such hypocrisy to claim that Obama supporters are cultish. John McCain is on stage telling you that he knows the Truth.

Guess what? He doesn't. Not a clue.

The first sign that you should run from a "leader" as fast as humanly possible is when he deals in such absolutes. Solutions are not achieved through one man telling you how it is, at least not in a real democracy.

The hubris required to speak as John McCain does about what he "knows" is shocking. Even Bush isn't that deluded: he has Cheney to run the show.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Given McCain's age and history of cancers, there is no way the base will let him nominate a pro-choice VP to succeed him if he dies or to run for the Republican nomination when he retires..

Posted by: Aleks | August 21, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama making a "Russia" stump speech by leading off with shame-on-America for invading Iraq and the posturing against offshore oil drilling by Nancy Pelosi and Obama in Congress.

Obama's blowing all that $300 Million that his loyal supporters donated to him and that he has used to push himself, with the most self-undermining positions and callow statements possible.

The callow, clueless and naive candidate is acting true to form.

McCain so has this election won, if he makes the right VP pick. And the right VP pick should be a bold diversity one, not a cross-party or across-wedge-issue one.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"While McCain has built his political reputation on his willingness to go against his own party"
Mostly, he has been on both sides of almost every issue.

Posted by: Frank Palmer | August 21, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Just as I said a couple of days ago:

FCG, KOL & USO, all up 7-10%

Analyst on CNBC: "The world is waking up to the fact that every molecule of energy that passes into Europe is now controlled by a belligerent Russia."

But this was all obvious from the beginning of Russian's invasion, last week. All you had to do was look at the pipelines through Georgia and where the Russians moved when they invaded.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

RTFANNING HAS IT RIGHT. READ HIS POST MULTIPLE TIMES, OBAMANISTS.
THEN AWAIT THE HILLARY ROLL CALL 'PUTSCH'

• And the Obama camp threatens to reduce superdelegate power? On the "Eve of Destruction"?


There's really a much simpler explanation as to why McCain may go with pick a pro-choice moderate:

He figures that Hillary or Al Gore is going to be on the ticket -- perhaps at the top of the ticket -- with Obama the VP nominee as his not-to-shabby consolation prize.

A poster here, I think it was Dexter Manley from Panama but I could be wrong, reminded us the other day of that meeting at Diane Feinstein's house between Barack and Hillary. The poster also speculated that perhaps the GOP had an "inside line" to what was discussed at that meeting (that's his speculation; I'm just a reporter here).

At that meeting, the candidates may have decided that whoever wins in the end, the other will get the VP pick. That would explain the delay in Obama making his VP announcement (which may end up being just a smokescreen to keep the backroom deal a surprise).

McCain realizes the juggernaut that would be created with a Clinton-Obama ticket (or, if you accept my theory, a Gore-Obama ticket brokered by Hillary, who would then be the Dems' kingmaker who recaptured the DNC and saved the party from defeat).

As the power behind the throne, Hillary could then head back victorious to the Senate, where she would surely become the majority leader as she awaits her Supreme Court appointment.

Obama's people make yet another under-reported strategic blunder the other day: They let it be known that they want to change the DNC rules with the intent of reducing the power of the superdelegates in future election cycles.

Why would they say that now, just before the supers are about to yield their big stick? Talk about putting a fork in it!


BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not when government-supported "vigilante injustice" squads are "gang stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/get-political-vic-livingston-opinion-expose-state-supported-vigilante-squads-doing-domestic-terrorism

WHAT IF THEY COULD SHOOT YOU
WITHOUT LEAVING A TRACE? THEY CAN.
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/zap-have-you-been-targeted-directed-energy-weapon-victims-organized-gang-stalking-say-its-happening-usa-1

Posted by: scrivener | August 21, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Clinton should make a move to take the nomination away from Obama.

McCain can win the election with the right VP pick, and once Obama's committed as the nominee, there's nothing any Democrat can do to stop McCain from winning, he does a bold, diversity VP pick.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The following day, on "Meet the Press," NBC's Andrea Mitchell said some "Obama people" suggested that McCain heard the questions in advance because he "seemed so well-prepared."

Indeed, McCain did seem better prepared -- to lead this country, that is.


no fair, McCain's been doing this for years. Obama is just getting started. Can he get a handicap of some sort. Like maybe the press won't report accurately or something.

Posted by: can I get back to waffling now? | August 21, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

>>anne C wrote: "Obama's got a lot of ground to make up following that performance last weekend at the Saddleback presidential forum with pastor Rick Warren."

How do you make up for being unable to take clear, unequivocal positions, on questions that are as basic as who you are, what you think and what your defining life experiences are?

Warren obviously really likes Obama and Obama was offered a prime-time chance to define himself before a national audience, an opportunity he desperately needed.

Of course, he could only use the opportunity to his benefit if there was something meaningful inside the suit, worth defining.

The only thing Obama defined was to validate the accusations that he's an empty suit, a hollow, posturing, charismatic narcissist with good affectations of elitism and intellectualism.

He is everything that the Clinton supporters have been complaining about and that McCain has been defining him as: a nothing. A phony pseudo-sophisticate who has never accomplished anything but promote himself without any substantial achievement. Obama's a liberal version of George W. Bush.

It's too late. All over.

Gergen is right: Obama needs a game-changer or he's toast. Obama needs some substance on his ticket because he has none.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

On Obama's "historical" argument, they shouldn't have passed the 13th Amendment because the Constitution "historically" had not mentioned slavery.

Do we know for a fact Barack Obama has read the Constitution? Obama's Facebook profile: "I'm pro-infanticide, I love sunsets, and I don't get the 13th Amendment!"

This is the guy who thinks he can condescend to Clarence Thomas? Asked at the Saddleback forum which Supreme Court justice Obama would not have nominated, Obama said ... the black one!

In Obama's defense, he said he thought Thomas wasn't experienced enough "at the time." So I guess Obama thinks Thomas should have to "wait his turn."

By contrast, Obama has experience pouring out of those big ears of his. Asked last year by Robin Roberts on ABC's "Good Morning America" about his lack of experience in foreign policy, Obama took umbrage.

Swelling up his puny little chest, Obama said: "Well, actually, my experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. I'm somebody who has actually lived overseas, somebody who has studied overseas. I majored in international relations."

He actually cited his undergraduate major as a qualification to be president.

But on Saturday night, Obama said he didn't think Clarence Thomas was a "strong enough jurist or legal thinker" to be put on the Supreme Court.

I bet Thomas has heard of the 13th Amendment!

Posted by: answered 8 questions, polls falling precipitously | August 21, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

But most stunningly, when Warren asked Obama if he supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, Obama said he did not "because historically -- because historically, we have not defined marriage in our Constitution."

I don't care if you support a marriage amendment or not. That answer is literally the stupidest thing I've ever heard anyone say. If marriage were already defined in the Constitution, we wouldn't need an amendment, no?

Posted by: duh | August 21, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Obama's got a lot of ground to make up following that performance last weekend at the Saddleback presidential forum with pastor Rick Warren.

After seeing Obama defend infanticide with the glib excuse that the question of when life begins is above his "pay-grade," Rev. Jeremiah Wright announced that although he's known Obama for 30 years, he only recently became aware of how extreme the senator's viewpoints were. Wright, after all, has his reputation to consider.

Network heads responded by dashing off an urgent memo: During the main presidential debates this fall, ask NO questions about abortion, ethics or evil! Morality isn't the Democrats' forte.

Obama's defenders spin his abominable performance in the Saddleback forum by saying he's just too smart to give a straight answer. As Rick Warren charitably described Obama's debate performance: "He likes to nuance things ... He's a constitutional attorney." The constitutional lawyer "does nuance," as Bill Maher said on "Larry King Live," "and you saw how well that goes over with the Rick Warren people."

Posted by: anne C. | August 21, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

From the "VP Late" thread yesterday:

>>dch wrote: "Aspergirl, Please believe us when we say that we would never dream of taking you seriously!"

dch, of course I'm glad you would never dream of taking my investing and energy markets commentary seriously.

Firstly, as my post said, I'd never recommend anyone buy/sell anything because the markets are so volatile right now that even if the advice was sound, the timing can kill you if you buy/sell on the wrong day.

Secondly, I've made a pile on the trades I made consistent with my energy markets commentary, particularly in the past 2 days, so I'm glad to know that I did and you didn't.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

How many houses does he own?

Posted by: Peter | August 21, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Lets see the keynote speaker and John McSenile have a lot in common, cheated on their former wifes and children. Giuliani experience comes from 9-11 and he reminds us all the time.McSenile experience comes from being a POW and he reminds us all the time.I can not wait until the night McSenile speaks , seeing Lieberman on one side of McSenile and Lindsey Graham one the other side whispering in McSeniles ears. Connie from Indiana

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes Chris is totally out there. To think Lieberman or Ridge makes political sense is laughable. I like and respect both of these fine public servants but their would be a total revolt at the convention if he picked either one. If he had the firm support of the conservative wing he might get away with it, but we have serious doubts about McCain's conservatism and we will happily take defeat before we allow McCain to attempt a change of our core conservative values. I can't believe he would roll the dice when he has a 50/50 chance of winning.

Posted by: bhoomes | August 21, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

What ever happened to The Fix t-shirt contest from last week? (Who won the week?)

Posted by: PS | August 21, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday, Barack Obama told a Virginia audience “We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies. They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.”

Faced with a geopolitical challenge that demands unwavering Western fortitude and American stewardship, Barack Obama apologizes for the misuse of American strength and initiative. This speaks of a worldview in which America’s faults are always kept at the fore and a national security paradigm in which the U.S. must seek to understand enemy action as a manifestation of American arrogance. This worldview leaves us dangerously ill-equipped to tackle or even contain antagonists like Vladimir Putin and company.

Putin does not follow Washington’s example in matters of aggression. Iraq war or not, the Kremlin’s plans for the past two weeks would have unfolded as they did and with the same degree of militancy. Moscow has been cleansing South Ossetia of Georgian sympathizers and fomenting anti-Georgian sentiment there since the early 90’s. In fact, if any blame for this crisis falls on the U.S., it’s not due to George W. Bush’s bellicosity, but to the measured pragmatism of his father, who established the policy whereby independence in the South Caucasus was exclusively a “domestic affair of the U.S.S.R.”

Obama’s impulse toward self-flagellation represents more than a case of faulty judgment. It is in itself a liability. If Obama were actually President, imagine the effects of these words in Moscow. As Victor Davis Hanson recently put it, “Russia knows the great truth about the West: it will pour a half-million people into the street to protest the United States removing a homicidal dictator to foster democracy, but not a half-dozen to object to Russia attempting to remove a democratic government to foster dictatorship.” Discomfort with war is a laudable trait. But the commander-in-chief has to be able to put such concerns in perspective when global power shifts in alarming ways. Barack Obama, as indicated in his statement, sees any country–even his own–as damnable once it “charge[s] into other countries.” What more could Putin desire in an American president?

In fairness, there was always a respectable argument that the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq would open the door for less trustworthy countries looking to justify aggression on pre-emptive grounds. It does not apply here, and in any case now is not the time for an American leader to air it. As for “leading by example,” blaming the U.S.–at least partially–in public for Russian hostility is surely the worst way to go about it.

Posted by: abe | August 21, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"Some believe that McCain wants to completely overhaul the definition of what it means to be a Republican."

It's important that McCain maybe take a step into inclusiveness with a diversity pick, not a political wedge issue bridge guy. I.e. he'd do better with Condoleeza Rice than with Liebermann.

While it seems politically suicidal for a Republican to pick a female black VP, given the marginal racist vote and the considerable gender discrimination vote (which is a bigger problem than racist bias in politics this year), it is the right election year and the principled thing to do for the Republicans to finally put forth a minority or woman candidate for their executive leadership. And McCain, if nothing else, is the principled sometimes-maverick who should do it. He is, after all, running a senior candidacy against a rock star and his resurgent candidacy might be derailed at any time against impossible odds.

With one move -- his VP pick -- McCain would transform the mantle of "change" and authenticity from Obama's shoulders onto his own, forever and for good. Obama would have nothing to stand on then, as a candidate, having compromised his "no cynical position changing" and other "new politics" promises with which he defined himself in the primaries. (McCain's success at defining Obama is, in part, due to Obama having compromised on those "new politics" traits he defined himself with as a primary candidate).

If McCain takes the "reformer" and "diversity leadership" mantle away from Obama, Obama would have nothing to offer voters that any other more experienced pol in DC has better than he does. With that one move, McCain would reduce Obama to being the empty suit that he is, huddled over the confetti of his flimsy hollow, rhetoric.

It's risky, but it's also the right thing to do. McCain should nominate Condoleeza Rice, or other prominent, experienced black or woman statesman/stateswoman, as his VP. If he can get it past his base, and his base has little choice, he cannot lose the election if he does so.

It's time to make it inevitable that an African American and/or woman will be on the presidential ticket, no matter which party wins this Fall.

That is what McCain needs to do, and that is what will ensure his win.

The foregoing is predicated, of course, on the notion that, unlike Obama, McCain's VP pick would be very experienced, competent and proven. That's a given, on account of McCain's own maturity and depth.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 21, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I don't think McSame has any grand plans to rebrand his party. You said it yourself, CC, he likes to be around who he's comfortable with--and that's not the hard right wing of his party. But, he can't be a maverick anymore as the Republican nominee. They own him now.

Posted by: scrapster | August 21, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

please tell us, rtfanning, what your comment has to do with the post? Or is it, possibly, that by focusing upon the "Hillary Putsch Fantasy" you are demonstrating the real goal of Republican "rebranding" strategy?

Posted by: dch | August 21, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Giuliani is a laughably bad pick as Keynote Speaker. But he's not a bad choice because of his views on abortion. The Republicans always show off their moderates and minorities during the convention. That doesn't say anything about the direction of the party; it's an attempt to appeal to independent voters. I don't expect Giuliani to say a single word about abortion in his speech. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the topic was avoided entirely during televised speeches.

Posted by: Blarg | August 21, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

CC - saw you on Hannity and the kook last night. you still seem so moderate and reasonable. TV demands you act more like like me for superb ratings. but you did well and I look forward to you appearing more on the ratings channel and less on the loony leftist one.

Posted by: kingofzouk | August 21, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

How do you spell "anarchy"?...a must read, particularly if you live in Denver

The DNC is going to need a new savior by this time next week and guess who is positioned to save the party?


http://www.newmediajournal.us/staff/williams/2008/print/08202008.htm


Consider the Latest Clinton maneuvers

▪ Camp Clinton convinced Camp Obama to help liquidate her campaign debts.

▪ Camp Clinton convinced Camp Obama to call for Florida and Michigan voters to be counted. It’s the right thing to do, of course. But had it already been done, Hillary would already be the nominee.

▪ Camp Clinton convinces Camp Obama to agree to a floor vote at the convention when all the cameras will be rolling. What if Clinton wins on the floor?

▪ Camp Clinton removes Obama supporter John Edwards from the equation, along with his scheduled convention speaking spot, on the basis that he is now a known lying cheater. But Bill Clinton (also a known lying cheater) is the headliner of the convention, and he’s not an Obama supporter at all.

▪ Barockstar tanks on national TV only days before the convention and his campaign staff is sent out to do damage control, leaving the super-delegates gasping in a holy crap moment, with the sudden realization that this empty suit is in no way ready for the big show. Only a promise to make a VP announcement this week can get his failed TV appearance off the front pages.

▪ Meanwhile, Camp Clinton is mobilizing millions of NObama minions and staging a convention coup in which Hillary can ride in on silver steed to save the party from complete implosion on an international stage…

Posted by: rtfanning | August 21, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

If McCain wants to rebrand the GOP, he should pick Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The Republicans could do a lot worse than to be known as the MILF Party!

Posted by: AK | August 21, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

In a way, McCain is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. If he chooses Lieberman, it will be viewed as a hail-mary pass. If he chooses Pawlenty, it will be viewed as 'safe,' neither of which helps him with his basic problem--If he can't get above 46% nationwide, he can't win. All Obama needs to do is improve upon Kerry's app. 30% of white evangelicals he got in 2004. If Barack can peel off 5 to 10% of those voters, he's in. The only way McCain can prevent those defections is to choose a candidate with enormous appeal among this crucial segment. Huckabee would work, Pawlenty might but I am skeptical that he has enough appeal. I am ready to be wrong, of course, but I still think he'll go with Romney and hold his nose.

Posted by: dch | August 21, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

This election is going to be won by the candidate who demonstrates the most leadership. The conventions will be each candidate's opportunity to demonstrate some leadership - of their party and the country. Whoever does that most successfully will win.

At this point, it looks like Obama is positioned to take the leadership reins of his party. For him, it will depend, largely, on how the Clintons perform during the convention. Will the torch be passed from Bill to Barack? Will it be a botched handoff, to jump to a relay metaphor?

On the Repub side, there's a leadership vacuum for the party. McCain will have to offer some kind of direction at the convention. His problem, as its been for the party since before he was known as the nominee, is whether to 'stay the course' and appease the base, or tack towards the moderates & swing voters that he will have to attract in order to win in November.

The country is yearning for leadership. Who will show it?

Posted by: bsimon | August 21, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"Some believe that McCain wants to completely overhaul the definition of what it means to be a Republican. "

If McCain's ideal Republican is a double-talking, out-of-touch, befuddled Bush wannabe, he has been so far successful in reworking the definition.

Posted by: bondjedi | August 21, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

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