This one wasn’t even close. Obama was fluid, specific and forceful on nearly every issues. McCain was irritable, sarcastic and dismissive of Obama. The best turn was on Pakistan, when McCain talked about “talking softly and carrying a big stick.” Obama, showing how much he has grown as a debater, immediately pounced, riffing on McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb Iran” comments. Devastating. The snap polls are universally in Obama’s favor:
The CBS News poll of undecided voters went for Obama 39%-27%. The Fox News focus group went for Obama. The CNN focus group went for Obama, but barely.
CNN national poll numbers coming soon…
And here they are: Among national voters, Obama wins 54%-30%. Yikes.
And of course, what everybody is buzzing about, McCain’s dismissive reference of Obama as “that one”:
The Center for Responsive politics has come out with a new study on donations from military personnel to presidential candidates, and the results are actively embarrassing for Senator John McCain. Despite McCain’s own veteran status and a media narrative that paints him as a foreign policy expert (despite all evidence to the contrary), the troops which have the most on the line have The Center for Responsive politics has come out with a new study on donations from military personnel to presidential candidates, and the results are actively embarrassing for Senator John McCain. Despite McCain’s own veteran status and a media narrative that paints him as a foreign policy expert (despite all evidence to the contrary), the troops which have the most on the line have overwhelmingly favored Senator Obama with their donations.
According to an analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain’s haul.
What’s arguably even more embarrassing for Senator McCain than Barack Obama’s fundraising prowess is that Ron Paul out raised him by more than a 4:1 margin from active overseas military. Ron Paul, despite being borderline certifiable with some of his policy ideas, was the only Republican candidate who was anti-war in the primary. Between the contributions that Ron Paul and Barack Obama have received, it’s clear that active duty military that are deployed overseas are sending a clear message that they are ready to end America’s military engagement in Iraq.
Cyndi McCain took a microphone yesterday and compared her husband to the survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
Cindy McCain kicked off the meeting by describing her recent visit to Rwanda, saying that she was amazed by women there who have recovered from being raped during the nation’s genocidal war in the 1990s.
“These women are far stronger than I could even hope to be,” she said, adding that they reminded her of her husband, who was held in captivity in the Vietnam War. “He suffered and overcame what happened to him. My husband, like the Rwandan women are the essence of hope, the essence of strength and the essence of courage.”
OK, let me first say that I have no idea or ability to comprehend what happened to John McCain in the Hanoi Hilton.
That said, McCain was a prisoner of war, not a victim of genocide. To compare what he went through to what the Rwandan survivors went through is apples and oranges. Where does the analogy end? Is McCain like a Holocaust survivor? Is he like a black family in the south that survived Jim Crow?
In this morning’s Washington Post, McCain’s recent campaign tactics are called out by Republican strategists as being churlish and pathetic. Even Ben Stein called out John McCain on his reprehensible tactics. The key quotes are below:
McCain’s comments came days after he said in New Hampshire, “It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.” They appear to reflect the campaign’s belief that it can make inroads with voters by keeping the focus on foreign policy issues after Obama’s return from a week-long trip to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and Western Europe. The moves puzzled some GOP strategists, who said McCain would be better off touting a more positive message, and the senator from Arizona drew a strong rebuke from a longtime ally, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who traveled with Obama last week to Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a congressional delegation.
One GOP strategist with close ties to McCain’s campaign said the new line of attack reflected the operation’s “schizophrenic” nature. He said that tendency was also on display last week, as McCain spoke at length about media coverage of Obama rather than sticking with his plan to focus on the economy.
“They couldn’t help themselves,” the strategist said, adding that the ad over the hospital visit is “churlish and unlike McCain, and hardly will resonate with the swing voters who are going to decide this election.” The strategist continued: “They’re doing it because the candidate, and the campaign, is not happy with where they are and they’re lashing out.”
And here’s what Ben Stein said:
Via This Week, by way of the Huffington Post comes a performance that is so nonsensical, so incoherent as to make you question the intelligence of the performer, as well as the sanity of any viewer willing to believe the performance, much less sit through the whole thing.
Now that Obama’s trip overseas is just about over (in fact, he may be on his way back stateside as we speak), he is obviously feeling a little free to engage McCain on his silly statements. To that end, he decided to take McCain on based on his seeming agreement with Obama and al-Maliki’s 16 month withdrawal plan.
In terms of his comment about — that maybe 16 months sounds good — we are pleased to see that there has been some convergence around proposals that we’ve been making for a year and a half. The fact that John McCain now thinks that we should put more troops into Afghanistan I think is a good thing and that the Bush administration acknowledges that as well.
…. The fact that John McCain now thinks that it’s possible for us to execute a phased withdrawal — I think that’s a positive thing and if the administration believes that as well, then I will, I will be fully supportive.
He also takes a (well-deserved) shot at the GOP and McCain for goading him into taking this trip:
It’s hard for me to understand Sen. McCain’s argument. He was telling me I was supposed to take this trip. He suggested it, thought it was a good idea. Although I gotta admit we had it planned before he made the suggestion. Uh, John McCain has visited every one of these countries post primary that I have. He has given speeches in Canada, in Colombia, Mexico he made visits. And so it doesn’t strike me that we’ve done anything different than the McCain campaign has done which is to recognize that part of the job of the next president and commander in chief is to forge effective relationships with our allies.
More of this next week, please.
Okay, it’s well past time to question whether McCain holds any core principles on foreign policy. After showing support for subjecting Bin Laden a Nuremberg style trial (even after blasting Obama for his similar position), he now voices support for the al-Maliki plan for withdrawal from Iraq.
BLITZER: Why do you think [Maliki] said that 16 months is basically a pretty good timetable?
MCCAIN: He said it’s a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground. I think it’s a pretty good timetable, as we should — or horizons for withdrawal. But they have to be based on conditions on the ground. This success is very fragile. It’s incredibly impressive, but very fragile. So we know, those of us who have been involved in it for many years, know that if we reverse this, by setting a date for withdrawal, all of the hard-won victory can be reversed.
The massive nature of this flip-flop cannot be overstated. McCain has been relentless in his criticism of Obama, resorting today to more petty mocking of Obama. Does McCain truly think he’ll be able to get away with this, in light of his outrageous attacks on Obama? I hope that the Obama camp is ready to pounce on this amazing flip-flop. Wow.
Update: Video below.
In front of a GI Forum in Denver as I write, McCain is giving an entire speech hammering away at Obama over the surge.
He goes on an extended riff about what would have happened if Obama “had his way,” and basically accuses him of nothing less than being a traitor who would have led to an apocalypse. More odiously, he basically contrasts two polar-opposite choices: Obama, and the military. Makes it sound like you can’t have one with the other. Worst of all, he lies and calls Obama’s plan for Iraq: “unconditional withdrawal.”
So instead of finally changing the subject, it’s all-surge-all-the-time. Sounds good to me: nobody is voting in this election based on the surge. I really hope Obama comes home, completely ignores the “surge” talk and goes on an all economy-message-all-the-time.
BREAKING UPDATE: McCain sounds pissed and is still a bad public speaker.
REAL ACTUAL UPDATE: Obama camp responds in a so-so statement (below). But note the use of the word “angry.” Are they trying to start the meme that McCain is a grumpy hothead? If so, good for them:
“The American people are looking for a serious debate about the way forward in Iraq and Afghanistan, and angry, false accusations will do nothing to accomplish that goal. Barack Obama and John McCain may differ over our strategy in Iraq, but they are united in their support for our brave troops and their desire to protect this nation. Senator McCain’s constant suggestion otherwise is not worthy of the campaign he claimed he would run or the magnitude of the challenges this nation faces,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
This may make McCain blow a gasket:
Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, fresh from an Iraq trip with Democrat Barack Obama, said the presidential candidates should focus on the war’s future and stop arguing over the success of last year’s troop surge.
Now, you may wonder why it is phrased at both candidates, as it seems like McCain is the one who is relentlessly yammering about it. Well, it is likely that Hagel was simply being diplomatic about not attacking directly. But Time notes that the statement seems to be more aimed at McCain:
Hagel mentioned both candidates, but his comments seemed directed at Republican John McCain. McCain, while Obama traveled the Middle East, attacked Obama for opposing the military escalation last year that increased security in Iraq.
“Quit talking about, ‘Did the surge work or not work,’ or, ‘Did you vote for this or support this,’” Hagel said Thursday on a conference call with reporters.
“Get out of that. We’re done with that. How are we going to project forward?” the Nebraska senator said. “What are we going to do for the next four years to protect the interest of America and our allies and restructure a new order in the world. … That’s what America needs to hear from these two candidates. And that’s where I am.”
CBS has some ‘splaining to do
During a CBS interview on Tuesday, John McCain made a stone cold error on a subject about which he claims expert knowledge: the “surge” strategy in Iraq. In an interview with anchor Katie Couric, the Arizona Republican said, inaccurately, that the surge strategy was responsible for the much-touted “Anbar Awakening,” in which Sunni sheiks turned against Al Qaeda, helping in turn to reduce violence in the country.
Head to The Jed Report for more.