by Todd Beeton, Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:53:19 AM EDT
Yesterday, after Barack Obama's speech, there was a townhall meeting here at the La Raza conference at which representatives from the two presidential campaigns answered questions about their respective candidates' health care plans. Tom Perez represented Senator Obama and Doug Holtz-Eakin represented Senator McCain. One thing that struck me was the amount of agreement there actually was between the two surrogates, at least as it was being presented by Holtz-Eakin. Both agreed on the importance of prevention and the fact that the private insurance model as it is now is not working and needs to be reformed and both threw around the buzzwords "access", "quality" and "affordability." Also, it would appear that McCain is actually quite amenable to government regulation of the private insurance industry. But that is where the similarities ended. In fact, Holtz-Eakin didn't say much at all other than stressing prevention and increasing efficiency, but his continued reliance on "the market" to expand people's access to care as well as his refusal to address pre-existing conditions and his knee-jerk demonization of public plans as "bureacracy" showed just how in the sand McCain's head is on the issue and how in the pocket of the private insurance industry he is. It's clear that very little would change under a McCain regime.
Tom Perez did a good job of using the event as a proxy debate on health care. He was particularly good on pushing back against Holtz-Eakin's "bureaucracy" talking point, making the point that it's private insurance companies that are full of bureaucratic inefficiencies that raise costs and compromise quality of coverage. He also used the event to frame health care reform as inextricably linked to immigration reform. "If you can't deliver comprehensive immigration reform then you can't deliver comprehensive health care reform to Latinos." Perez then used this link to deliver a hit on McCain for flip-flopping on immigration reform because of the opposition to it within his party. As Barbin MD posted this morning, John McCain said at the Reagan Library debate that he would not vote for the very bill that he pushed through the senate. Holtz-Eakin hit back on this attack by insisting that McCain's primary campaign was almost completely upended by his support for a path to citizenship and that he "has not changed a bit!"
This is going to be the message that John McCain delivers to La Raza today.
...he has earned the trust of Hispanic voters by championing an immigration reform bill that nearly killed his presidential bid. [...]
"I took my lumps for it without complaint. My campaign was written off as a lost cause. I did so not just because I believed it was the right thing to do for Hispanic Americans. It was the right thing to do for all Americans."
McCain is being introduced right now and he is getting a welcome reception.
Update [2008-7-14 16:19:30 by Todd Beeton]:Protesters are chanting and McCain is really thrown by it. "The one thing Americans want us to do is stop yelling at each other, so please..." Applause.
Update [2008-7-14 16:19:30 by Todd Beeton]:He's going after Obama for refusing to join him at townhalls.
"This is the third event Senator Obama and I have appeared at together...I asked Senator Obama to have a townhall meeting, to come here with me and share the same stage and yet he has refused to do that. And so I think Americans deserve better. I think Americans deserve a side by side comparison of both of us."
Interesting, he's going to take questions after his speech.
Update [2008-7-14 16:19:30 by Todd Beeton]:McCain is now speaking about the economy -- job losses, gas prices, home foreclosures...message: I care. "I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can."
Update [2008-7-14 16:19:30 by Todd Beeton]:His delivery is better than usual -- although he still has not mastered the teleprompter -- and the reception he is receiving is warm. His applause lines are actually receiving applause, although whenever the shot cuts to the audience during applause, it looks only like a quarter of the people in the room are actually applauding.
Update [2008-7-14 16:19:30 by Todd Beeton]:The backdrop of McCain's speech is a deep blue with floating "NCLR"s moving slowly back and forth. It's better than the puke green backdrop, of course, but it doesn't compare to Obama's backdrop of young Latinos yesterday.
"I am an unapologetic supporter of NAFTA and CAFTA." That got applause. "I hope Barack Obama will join me and go to Central America and South America for the first time." When he reminded the room that he was just down in South America he got a big applause.
Update [2008-7-14 16:19:30 by Todd Beeton]:"I am a strong supporter of charter schools and so is La Raza." Applause. So is Barack Obama, actually."I and my colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration reform...Many Americans didn't believe us when we said we'd secure our borders so we failed in our efforts. I don't want to fail again and we must not. We must prove that we have the resources to secure our borders...When we have achieved our border security we must implement the rest of comprehensive immigration reform." He's talking about immigration reform in terms of both economic and moral terms but is stressing border security. No mention of "path to citizenship" or going after employers.
Update [2008-7-14 16:19:30 by Todd Beeton]:"In his speech, Senator Obama suggested I turned my back on comprehensive immigration reform for political expediency so I feel I must correct the record...I fought for comprehensive immigration reform not once but twice with Senator Kennedy...I cast a lot of hard votes. I took my lumps for it without complaint, my campaign was written off as a lost cause. I did so not just because it was the right thing to do for Hispanic-Americans but because it is the right thing to do for all Americans."
Wow, he's mentioned Senator Kennedy 4 times. A Republican basking in the Ted Kennedy glow and in fact making the case that Obama has been opposed to Kennedy moreso than he has is a really strange twist and is a blatant pander considering the love for the Kennedys the Hispanic community has.
Update [2008-7-14 17:56:29 by Todd Beeton]:The text of John McCain's speech is up at Citizen Orange.