Some Alaska Republicans are conflicted over McCain, including Gov. Sarah Palin. They like his maverick reputation and military background but not his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
"She said she'd like to support McCain but felt she couldn't at this particular time because of his stand on ANWR," said the governor's spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow.
First: the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. McCain has always been against oil drilling and exploration in ANWR.
So, as recently as less than seven months ago, Sarah Palin refused to even endorse McCain because of a position of McCain's that, in a relatively rare occurrence, has not changed. That's how strongly principled she was (note the past tense) in support of drilling in ANWR.
But now she's willing to sell out her principle in the name of political opportunism, certainly going well beyond just endorsing McCain.
Maybe McCain is planning to trade in his old position for a newer model, which would also appease the "Drill Here, Drill Now!" crowd. Of course, that would be yet another major league flip-flop on John McCain's end.
This year John McCain is reprising the Republican Party's quadrennial effort of trying to woo Jewish voters, a group that overwhelmingly supports the Democratic Party and which is currently backing Barack Obama by a 2-to-1 margin (though I'd suspect that estimation is a little low). But if the GOP were truly serious about this outreach, would they really have put someone who appears to be a disciple of Pat Buchanan -- Sarah Palin -- on their ticket for November.
The Nation's Chris Hayes scored a big scoop this morning, unearthing a report from 1999 of Palin's support of then-Independent Presidential candidate Buchanan. And per Ben Smith, Buchanan said today on MSNBC that Palin was "brigader [for his campaign] back in 1996." Take a look:
As Smith notes, Buchanan's statements and actions over the years have earned him his own page on the Anti-Defamation League's website, highlighting statements ranging from "Capitol Hill is Israeli occupied territory" from 1990 and "If you want to know ethnicity and power in the United States Senate, 13 members of the Senate are Jewish folks who are from 2 percent of the population. That is where real power is at..." from just last year.
And yet from multiple sources, both contemporaneous and more recent from those intimately involved, Palin appears to have been a long-time supporter of Buchanan. This is the way McCain and the Republicans expect to court Jewish voters (as well as the roughly 90 to 95 percent of Americans who are to the left of Buchanan)?
Blogs do not (yet) drive public opinion. The overwhelming majority of voters have probably never heard of DailyKos and certainly haven't heard of MyDD. We aren't there yet. We aren't much better than an echo chamber. We can raise money pretty well and we're not that bad at organizing. We can, on occasion, do some good opposition research (though the Republican bloggers have done a better job of it thus far).
We really aren't kind of a big deal (yet). This is very important and it speaks to a misunderstanding. We're self-centered, and we overestimate both the good we can do, and the damage we can wreak.
ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg has a fascinating piece up on McCain's decision making process in choosing Sarah Palin to be his running mate.
Apparently Palin was a last-minute pick, was only vetted this week, and was only chosen by McCain once it became clear that his desired pick, Lieberman, wasn't feasible.
It wasn't until Sunday night that John McCain, after meeting with his four top advisers, finally decided he could not tap independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. One adviser, tasked with taking the temperature of the conservative base, had strongly made the case to McCain that it would be a disaster for the party and that the base would revolt. McCain concluded he could not go that route.
The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman.
The campaign secretly flew Palin into Dayton last night. She and McCain met privately for a couple of hours. McCain concluded she would "shake up the system" and was "a maverick," qualities he believed Lieberman would have brought to the ticket. But she also would appeal to conservatives -- which Lieberman most certainly would not have done.
After their meeting, McCain concluded he was comfortable with his choice. He notified Pawlenty this morning that he was going in a different direction.
I had been wondering in the back of my mind if the success of the Dem Convention - and Obama's bump in the polls - had led McCain to panic. Now we have confirmation that he did indeed make the decision to pick Palin while all of this was going on - and made the final call during or after Obama's acceptance speech.
Thought that the investigation into the alleged improprieties of the presumptive Republican Vice Presidential nominee wouldn't come back to bite John McCain, that it doesn't matter whether a presidential campaign fully vets its number two pick? Think again. The Washington Post does some great reporting and gets ahold of the man Palin had fired -- allegedly for failing to fire her one-time brother-in-law --who had not previously spoken to the national press.
[Walter] Monegan, 57, a respected former chief of the Anchorage Police Department [who was fired in June as Alaska Public Safety Commissioner], said in an interview with The Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi on Friday that the governor repeatedly brought up the topic of her ex-brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, after Monegan became the state's commissioner of public safety in December 2006. Palin's husband, Todd, met with Monegan and presented a dossier of information about Wooten, who was going through a bitter custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly. Monegan also said Sarah Palin sent him e-mails on the subject, but Monegan declined to disclose them, saying he planned to give them to a legislative investigator looking into the matter.
Palin initially denied that she or anyone in her administration had ever pressured Monegan to fire the trooper, but this summer acknowledged more than a half a dozen contacts over the matter, including one phone call from a Palin administration official to a state police lieutenant. The call was recorded and was released by Palin's office this month. Todd Palin told a television reporter in Alaska that he did meet with Monegan, but said he was just "informing" Monegan about the issue, not exerting pressure.
"She never directly asked me to fire him," Monegan said.
But he said Todd Palin told him Wooten "shouldn't be a trooper. I've tried to explain to him, you can't head hunt like this. What you need to do is back off, because if the trooper does make a mistake, and it is a terminable offense, it can look like political interference.
"I think he's emotionally committed in trying to see that his former brother-in-law is punished."
Many have pointed out that there is an ongoing investigation into Palin's potential abuse of power -- an investigation, by the way, which is expected to culminate in a public report during the first couple of days in November -- and at least from the allegations being made by Monegan, it sounds like there may be some "there" there. As noted in The Post piece quoted above, Palin has already been forced to walk back from some of her earliest denials -- never a great sign in these types of investigations. So while I still believe that the coming verdict in the trial of Ted Stevens could be a major problem for Palin, and thus for John McCain, it looks like it's not the only corruption issue that could hamper the GOP ticket. I guess it is important to run a thorough vet after all...