McCain's GOP Predecessor as Commerce Chair Backs Obama
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 07:27:05 PM EDT
Josh Marshall points to the news (also flagged in Breaking Blue by lowkell) that former South Dakota Republican Senator Larry Pressler has thrown his support behind Barack Obama. This news could marginally help Obama in South Dakota, where both the most recent poll and the trend of polling shows a single-digit spread between John McCain and Obama (if Obama can get more than the 6 percent support he currently earns among the state's Republican voters, the race could further tighten).
But the aspect of the news that stood out to me the most was the way in which it represented a slap in the fact to McCain. Pressler, a conservative Republican, was McCain's predecessor as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee -- the position, many will remember, that McCain has unexpectedly and somewhat nonsensically tried to use as proof of his understanding of economics and finance. This argument from McCain lacks merit, both because his deregulatory ways as Commerce chairman were based on the type of ideology that has gotten us into the financial crisis in which we now find ourselves and because the committee, despite its name, deals more with issues like telecommunications than pure commerce or finance.
Regardless, even assuming some people were buying the McCain campaign's claims about the Commerce committee, Pressler's support for Obama provides a fairly strong counterweight to this line of reasoning. Why? Despite holding the very same position as McCain immediately before McCain, and sitting on the committee with McCain for several years, Pressler is nevertheless backing Obama because he "just got the feeling that Obama will be able to handle this financial crisis better." Ouch.