Barack Obama

Making Sense of the McCain Narrative Coming from St. Paul

Staying true, never wavering. Rising above politics as usual. Taking on his own Party. He is his own man. Willing to do the hard stuff, like tackling climate change and immigration reform. A courageous maverick. The drumbeat from St. Paul is relentless.

But is it true?

While it may have been at one time, it can no longer be considered true. McCain fought the Bush economic strategy. He now embraces it. McCain opposed the Bush approach to use of torture. Today he supports it. He was a leader on the effort to fix our broken immigration system. Today he no longer supports his own bill. While he has been a leader on tackling elements of the climate change fight, as Jake writes below, it is no longer clear that he supports the positions he had a few months ago. He runs ads with wind turbines and solar panels but has helped kill the main government program supporting their growth. He fought the lobbyists and now his campaign is run by, and littered with, them. He says he is the experienced one, but is now on his 3rd campaign manager and his team wildly bungled the vetting of his VP, the most important decision he has made to date. He argues each day he will balance the budget but independent analysis all show that he will do the very opposite.

In order to win the nomination this year, John McCain embraced the very politics he fought so hard against for so many years. His story is not one of courage, of fortitude, of virtue but one of an old politician, seeing his last chance for the Presidency slip away, give in to a Party's and a President he had fought so long, sacrificing his integrity and his beliefs along the way. The McCain story is much more craven than courageous, more aging pol than heroic leader, more a man who has bragged repeatedly that he supported President Bush more than 90% of the time than an independent maverick.

It is not an inspiring story no matter how much they attempt to dress it up this week in Minnesota. Like so many, I admired the old McCain, but that man is not the man running for President of the United States this year. He disappeared forever sometime in 2007.

Palin means the focus will stay on McCain

Over the next few days while we learn more about Sarah Palin one thing is clear - the lack of seriousness of Palin's record means that the ideological focus will remain on McCain and his record: and that it reinforces the argument Democrats have been making that the Republicans have simply not been serious about governing these last few years. 

Obama's New Voter Reg Tool

The Obama campaign just launched a new website,, aimed at simplifying the voter registration process. From the campaign press release:

Today, the Obama campaign launched a new website aimed at simplifying the election process for voters as we gear up for a historic general election. is a new voter registration tool where voters across the country can verify their registration status, register to vote for the first time, or get the relevant absentee voting information for their state - all online.

"The number one reason that people don't vote is because they don't understand how easy it is to register to vote", said Jason Green, Director of Voter Registration. ", simplifies the process. It allows voters to register, check registration status, or find a polling location - all at the click of a button. By simplifying and explaining the process we believe that new voters will register, become involved in our movement for change and elect Senator Obama president in November."

Maybe this will be one of the tools given to all who attend Obama's Thursday acceptance speech at Invesco Field, fulfilling the goal of Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand to make sure everyone leaves a volunteer.

Obama Enters the Two Conventions In the Lead

With a new Washington Post poll today the 3 major national news organization polls this week all have Senator Obama ahead and winning the race against John McCain as we head into the 2 Conventions.   

From the Post:

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are locked in a highly competitive race for the White House, with voters giving McCain a clear edge as a potential commander in chief but Obama a sizable advantage on economic issues, the subject of greatest concern to voters, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Heading into two critical weeks of the campaign -- the four-day Democratic National Convention is set to open here on Monday, followed by the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities next week -- Obama maintains a narrow, six-point edge over McCain among registered voters. Among those most likely to vote, 49 percent back Obama and 45 percent back McCain.

The poll was completed just before Obama announced the selection of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate.

The results show little movement from the last Post-ABC survey, conducted in mid-July, before Obama embarked on a highly publicized trip overseas and prior to a series of fierce exchanges between the campaigns. Other recent national polls also show only limited changes in the overall race heading into the conventions, although several of those surveys indicate an even-tighter race.

Relative stability in the race stems in part from both sides' legions of committed supporters. About three-quarters of supporters on both sides said they will "definitely" vote for their current choice. Still, about three in 10 registered voters, and nearly as many likely voters, are "movable" -- those who are less solidly behind their pick or who have yet to decide. The number of swing voters this year is substantially higher than it was at this time in 2004, highlighting the importance of the next two weeks as the candidates strive to define themselves and their opponents.

Read the rest here.

Early thoughts on the Biden pick

Perhaps it is more relief than elation this morning, but however we sort this all out right now the pick of Joe Biden is looking shrewd, smart, sure-footed. Experienced, deep knowledge of foreign policy and the ways of Washington, strong connections to the Council on Foreign Relations crowd, Catholic, working class, son to be deployed to Iraq in October. This morning this feels like a good pick, Obama's pick, one that will help Senator Obama not only win but govern in turbulent times. It just feels right.

The buzz around the mobile announcement of the pick has also been highly successful. Reinforces the openness and people-oriented nature of the campaign. I offered some thoughts on the rollout in a SF Chronicle piece today, and Travis weighed in here too a few days ago.

For a deeper discussion on the power of new media be sure to join us for a special panel at the Convention, 2 Million Strong, which will feature Senator Obama's Director of New Media Joe Rospars, Joe Trippi and Google's Peter Greenberger. It runs from 2 to 4pm, Tuesday, at the Westin Tabor Center.

Finally, it is astonishing that in the next 8 weeks we will have the 2 VP picks, the 2 Conventions, and all 4 debates. And another 3 weeks after that to the election itself. In what has been an incredible political year we just experienced a lull. With his 3am text the Obama campaign launched the next and very intense round of what is going to be quite a general election campaign.

For those looking for more on Biden Daily Kos already has quite a bit up, and very well worth visiting.

Update 8am: Here's the text Travis received:

Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on Spread the word!

Note the encouragement to watch it live on the Obama site and not on TV. The day of the always on Presidential campaign continues to evolve.

Update 6pm - Added some additonal thoughts in this Reuters piece by John Whitesides.

Update 630pm - Our good friend Joe Trippi offers these observations on Biden in a new post on Daily Kos.

Update 645pm - Via Huff Post, this is one powerful and well crafted line from the speech today:"

"these times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader."

This is simply one of the most powerful lines of any speech in this remarkable year.

Simon on the Veepstakes

In the video below, NDN President Simon Rosenberg talks about what both U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are looking for in their Vice Presidential pick. Check out the two minute video below, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Is Simon right or wrong? Let us know what you think.

A New Phase in the Campaign: Economics Dominates

For the last month, the McCain campaign has drilled away at energy as the decisive "separate from Bush and make Obama look bad in the process issue" in the election. McCain’s ads first trumpeted his commitment to cap and trade and later whacked Obama on drilling. His ads pointed to a mythical "electricity tax," and, despite obvious errors, hypocrisies, contradictions, and outright lies, conventional wisdom decided that McCain had won the debate on drilling.

With McCain’s four word key position of "drill here, drill now" exhausted, Obama, as the New York Times covered today, pivoted his message to the economic well being of everyday people. His second Olympic ad focused completely on his economic plan (the first focused on building an energy economy).

In case you haven’t caught Olympic fever and seen it, "Three Bedroom Ranch:"

Then today, John McCain had a moment that played right into Obama’s hands. McCain forgot – in the midst of a housing crisis – how many houses he owned. As I briefly mentioned earlier today, the Obama campaign quickly turned an ad around, noting how out of touch McCain was with everyday people.

McCain will have two, already begun, responses: he will continue to go negative on Obama, moving from a celebrity attack to a politics of association line of attack, and he will try to move the debate back to the issues he feels good about: national security and energy. This strategy has two small problems and one big problem for McCain. First, king oilman Dick Cheney is speaking at the Republican National Convention a week and a half from now – not exactly the backdrop McCain wants on energy. Second, timetable is now an agreed upon word for the end of America’s engagement in Iraq, the proposed Democratic solution.

The really big problem for McCain is that, while some think offshore drilling is nice, and others may care about foreign policy, Americans, in large part, see the economy as the overwhelmingly dominant issue. The McCain responses to his housing uber-gaffe – all personal attacks – do not get away from the fact that their candidate, a man who has spent 26 years in Washington, thinks the level of being rich is having five million dollars, and is extraordinarily wealthy, is no doubt out of touch with the lives of everyday Americans.

If this narrative sticks, if Obama can convince everyday Americans that he is focused on them, and if Obama can close on this message, it is hard to see Obama losing, because, despite all this supposedly bad polling and this supposedly bad month, Obama is still ahead.

Obama Ad: McCain Out of Touch on Economy

On the back of John McCain forgetting about how many houses he owns, the Obama ad team turns around an answer for him.


Driving this narrative - that McCain can't possibly be good on the economy because he has no idea what every day Americans are going through - has strong potential for Obama in the coming two months. 

Quick '08 Update: Fake Txts and Unknown Homes

- First off, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a woman and public servant for whom we all had an immense amount of respect. She'll certainly be missed in this office.

- Want to be that friend? Wonkette shows you how to send fake texts announcing U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's VP.(Update: I've heard about a few of these today, so when the real text happens I'll most likely doubt it.)

- Simon takes a quick look at recent polling.

- Be sure to check out Marc Ambinder's coverage of who speaks when at the Republican Convention.

- Obama Ad Update: If you haven't already done so, take Jake's advice and watch "Seven". Also check out "Backyard", "General Three Times", "Never", "Dangerous", and "Better Off". Read more at CBS News and First Read.

- Perhaps as a result of their own experiences, the Obama campaign and the DNC are making a joint effort to make changes to the primary process.

- Also check out this video of Obama using the 40th Anniversary of the Prague Spring to talk about Russia and Georgia.

- How many homes does U.S. Sen. John McCain own? He doesn't even know.

- Lynn Sweet says that U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's IL delegates were given the treatment during a meeting at Obama headquarters.

- OH, MI and PA voters will be getting an AFL-CIO mailer that goes after John McCain on trade with China. Meanwhile in the FT, Jagdish Bhagwati suggests a total rethink on trade.

- Meanwhile in Dunmore, PA, Hillary Clinton's Brother, Tony Rodham, met with Carly Fiorina, a top surrogate of the McCain campaign. (Via Jake Tapper.)

- Lynn Sweet reveals McCain's hopes of putting a dent in Obama's Jewish support.

- The timing of Obama's choice has its ups and downs, says Cillizza. Yet according to the Political Wire, many other past nominees have made "late" announcements.

- Hang on. John McCain actually said that in order to capture Osama bin Laden, we need to enact the draft? Ambinder says not so fast.

- David Leonhardt has a huge piece coming out in Sunday's New York Times Magazine on How Obama reconciles dueling views on the economy. Along similar lines, today's New York Times features a story on Obama's shifting message, which focuses on everyday concerns like the economy.

- The Trail notes that, unlike the DNC, the RNC is not filing McCain's victory fund reports monthly.

- David Gergen says that Obama is in need of a game changer. What about an Obama-Caroline Kennedy ticket, a suggestion from Michael Moore?

- In a letter to McCain, chairman Richard Vigurie expresses concern over VP speculation. Not surprisingly, Laura Ingraham expresses similar concern.

- In the Gulf Times, Jeffrey Sachs writes on how the internet and mobile phones are ending poverty by closing the isolation gap.

- Check out Howard Wolfson's new blog, Gotham Acme.

- And last, but certainly not least in my opinion, Ben's Chili Bowl will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. The festivities kick off tonight with the Ali family set to host a free gala featuring celebrities like Roberta Flack and Bill Cosby, who is the only person who receives free food at Ben's. (Thanks to our own Ben Cahen for sending this along!)

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