How to Beat McCain/ Palin - Hit the GOP on Corruption

By picking Palin, McCain is signaling that he is going to jettison the experience argument and try to make the REPUBLICAN ticket the ticket of change. Except that for McCain, the key word will be "reform." McCain and Palin will try to own reform the same way the Obama campaign has owned change. And they are hoping the choice of Palin will reinforce that message, even if it's more in an optics way than in terms of actual facts. At the very least, it's designed to make it harder for Obama to tie McCain to Bush.

So how should Obama respond? The first response out of the gate has been to hit Palin on experience, noting the fact she will be a "heartbeat" away from the Presidency. That's a nice start, but not enough to close the deal. The good news, however, is that it nullifies that argument against Obama and makes him look experienced by comparison.

To really close the deal, the Obama campaign needs to take a page from the Republicans and go after McCain and Palin's strength, the theme of reform.

Of course, as usual in politics, both McCain and Sarah Palin's records of "reform" are highly overrated.

Most recently, Palin has been embroiled in a scandal in which her staff pushed for the firing of a state trooper who was involved in a custody battle with her sister.

But the true gold may be in Palin's ties to the notoriously corrupt Alaskan Republican party.

As Jonathan Singer notes on the front page, the Ted Stevens trial is coming up:

With the trial of Ted Stevens beginning next month, and a verdict likely in the case before election day, what happens to the Republican presidential ticket if and when the case comes to a close in mid- or late-October.

There was an extent to which John McCain had an opportunity to deflect criticism over the trial of Stevens, the longest serving Republican Senator in history, given the fact that the two haven't tended to be particularly close on Capitol Hill. However, by picking Sarah Palin, McCain is wholeheartedly embracing the Stevens machine, which is in tatters in Alaska following not only the indictment of the senior Senator but also the cases against and investigations into state legislators close to him (including his son Ben Stevens, the former President of the state Senate).

With Palin so closely aligned with Stevens -- and under an ethics investigation herself -- what happens if and when a verdict in the Stevens trial comes down, say, on October 20th, roughly two weeks from election day? What if it comes down on the Thursday before election day? I'm not sure we know the exact answer -- but I've got a feeling that such an outcome wouldn't be a great one for the McCain campaign.

The Obama campaign need to highlight what is happening in Alaska - and weave it into a storyline, which the public is already familiar with, of Republican corruption in Washington. Heck, it looks Cheney could even be involved. In doing so, they will expose how absurd it is that McCain and Palin are trying to run as "reformers."

There's plenty of dirt on McCain too - Keating Five might not be so relevant anymore, but Abramoff sure is.

Don't get me wrong, the Obama campaign should still try to link McCain to Bush. But the good news is they doesn't need to try to tie Palin to Bush - not directly. She already has a great tie-in in her own home state.

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What Happens When the Ted Stevens Verdict is Handed Down?

With the trial of Ted Stevens beginning next month, and a verdict likely in the case before election day, what happens to the Republican presidential ticket if and when the case comes to a close in mid- or late-October.

There was an extent to which John McCain had an opportunity to deflect criticism over the trial of Stevens, the longest serving Republican Senator in history, given the fact that the two haven't tended to be particularly close on Capitol Hill. However, by picking Sarah Palin, McCain is wholeheartedly embracing the Stevens machine, which is in tatters in Alaska following not only the indictment of the senior Senator but also the cases against and investigations into state legislators close to him (including his son Ben Stevens, the former President of the state Senate). Take a look, for instance, at the ad Stevens cut for Palin at a key point in her nascent general election campaign in 2006:

But it's not just the case that Stevens has been a key supporter of Palin, helping her move up from the mayor of a town with a population of less than 10,000 residents to become Governor. Palin has also been a key ally of Stevens -- even after it was well known that he was under federal investigation. Here's the two of them campaigning together just last month, for instance:

With Palin so closely aligned with Stevens -- and under an ethics investigation herself -- what happens if and when a verdict in the Stevens trial comes down, say, on October 20th, roughly two weeks from election day? What if it comes down on the Thursday before election day? I'm not sure we know the exact answer -- but I've got a feeling that such an outcome wouldn't be a great one for the McCain campaign.

Update [2008-8-29 14:20:13 by Jonathan Singer]: Don't think the McCain campaign is worried about Palin's ties to Stevens? Then why was the ad above featuring Stevens stumping and vouching for Palin mysteriously scrubbed from Palin's website? (Nice catch, TPM!)

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My Republican Dad is Fired Up and Ready To Vote Obama

I just got a phone call from my father. He's a wonderful man, but as a small business owner he's been a solid GOP voter for as long as I've been alive. I remember having intensely heated arguments with him after the 2000 election -- screaming, swearing, slamming down the phone arguments. I remember sitting in the car with him shaking my head and grinding my teeth as he explained to me in 1996 that, as a 19 year old newly minted voter, it was my duty to vote Bill Clinton out of office to help keep the family business strong. I just got another heated call from my old man. He's fired up and ready to vote for Obama.

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Sarah Palin: The Bridge to Nowhere

John McCain has chosen Sarah Palin of Alaska to serve as his running mate on his ticket. Ms. Palin, a Republican born in Idaho, has served as the governor of the smallest state in the union, Alaska, for all of two years. She previously was the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 residents. As far as I can see, her major qualification seems to be that she hunts moose.

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America does not have an "Alaska Permanent Fund"

(cross-posted at the Big Orange)

While some folks gleefully point out the degree to which this takes McCain's 'experience' trump card off the table...

While others fret about whether this pick means any lingering Clinton/Obama divisions flare up...

While others hopefully speculate on ethics investigations...

It's STILL THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

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