August 4, 2008: Veepstakes and Race Card


The week that was….

  • August 3, 2008: Republican Candidate John McCain has asked for personal documents from Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, and according to insiders he is under serious consideration for the Vice-Presidential slot on the Republican ticket.
    Democratic candidate Barack Obama has backed away from the pre-convention town hall debates McCain has proposed. In May when a McCain advisor suggested the pre-debates in May, Obama said “I think that’s a great idea.” Obama will only agree to the standard three debates in the fall.
  • August 2, 2008: Obama has shifted his position on offshore drilling, now stating he will support in a limited capacity if it will foster a policy that will make autos fuel-efficient and will help “develop alternate energy sources.”
    McCain criticized Obama position on school vouchers, especially since Obama sends his own children to private schools.
  • August 1, 2008: Discussing his energy policy Obama said he would push “for a windfall profits tax to fund $1,000 emergency rebate checks.”
    McCain accused Obama of using the race card after Obama claimed to a Missouri auudience on Wednesday “that the likely Republican nominee and others in the GOP would try to scare voters by saying the Democrat “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis “the race card” and calling the remarks “divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.” However, Obama’s strategist, David Axelrod claimed McCain made the comments about race when McCain made those conclusions.

The Stats

  • August 2, 2008: According to Quinnipiac University poll about voting the battleground state of Florida, the state is divided racially. 53 to 39 percent of whites prefer McCain over Obama. However blacks overwhelmingly support Obama 89 percent to 2 percent for McCain.

Historians’ Comments

  • Gil Troy: Happy Birthday Obama — the Baby Buster – HNN, 8-8-08
  • Dan T. Carter on “Obama, McCain find race issue isn’t easily discarded”: “It is not to Barack Obama’s advantage to make this a big issue,” said Dan T. Carter, a history professor at the University of South Carolina, who has written extensively about race and politics. At the same time, McCain cannot afford to be seen as exploiting racial tensions for political gain, Carter said: “It is simply not acceptable to the majority of people, including many of those who may be sympathetic.” – LAT, 8-3-08
  • H. W. Brands on “John McCain’s oft-used Teddy Roosevelt analogy is fitting”: “The main thing about Roosevelt’s appeal is he’s remembered by most people as an image and a style,” said biographer H. W. Brands (“T.R.: The Last Romantic”), a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. – LAT, 8-3-08
  • John Milton Cooper Jr. on “John McCain’s oft-used Teddy Roosevelt analogy is fitting”: “Sooner or later, just about every Republican who runs for president will invoke T.R.,” said John Milton Cooper Jr., a history professor at the University of Wisconsin. “Usually, though, they don’t know what they’re talking about. McCain is more serious about it. I think he’s got more justification.” – LAT, 8-3-08
  • Lewis L. Gould on “John McCain’s oft-used Teddy Roosevelt analogy is fitting”: “Contemporary Republicans are well to the right of where Roosevelt was in 1912 in terms of their view of the power of government,” said presidential historian Lewis L. Gould. “If Sen. McCain were to get beneath the surface, he’d have to say, ‘There are some parts of Roosevelt I like and some parts I don’t like.'” – LAT, 8-3-08
  • Robert Dallek on “It’s not about experience, experts say Voters may take issue with a lighter resume, but president’s judgment called key”: “Experience matters, but its importance is terribly overstated,” said historian Robert Dallek, the author of recent books about Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon…. John F. Kennedy was 43 years old when he took office in 1961, four years younger than Obama. Kennedy’s early years were rocky, Dallek said, but “he was a quick learner” and his third and final year as president was masterful…. “Yet his management of the economy was a disaster,” Dallek said of Hoover’s one-term presidency, which began months before the Great Depression. – Houston Chronicle, 8-2-08
  • Richard Norton Smith on “It’s not about experience, experts say Voters may take issue with a lighter resume, but president’s judgment called key”: “John Quincy Adams understood the world, but he didn’t have a political gene in his makeup,” Richard Norton Smith, a presidential scholar at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va., said of the nation’s sixth president, who isn’t remembered as successful…. Kennedy’s actions those June days were “the moments he mastered the presidency,” Smith said. “He understood then how you take risks and use your political judgment.” – Houston Chronicle, 8-2-08
  • Carl Pinkele on “It’s not about experience, experts say Voters may take issue with a lighter resume, but president’s judgment called key”: “The presidency has too many moving pieces. Trying to gauge whether experience matters really eludes measurement,” said Carl Pinkele, a presidential expert at Ohio Wesleyan University, in Delaware, Ohio. – Houston Chronicle, 8-2-08
  • John Baick on “It’s not about experience, experts say Voters may take issue with a lighter resume, but president’s judgment called key”: Jimmy Carter also brought a management background, taking office in 1977 after one term as the governor of Georgia and more than 20 years running his family business. But “he was then universally criticized for being a micromanager in the White House,” said John Baick, an associate professor of history at Western New England College, in Springfield, Mass. – Houston Chronicle, 8-2-08
  • Stephen Hess on “Obama Opens Platform to Rank and File as Focus Turns to Economy”: “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama truly agreed on virtually everything,” said historian Stephen Hess, who was chief editor of the 1976 Republican platform. The Democrats are “anxious to win, and they are united.” – Bloomberg, 8-1-08
  • Stephen Hess on “Too Fit to Be President? Facing an Overweight Electorate, Barack Obama Might Find Low Body Fat a Drawback”: The last overweight president to be elected was 335-pound William Howard Taft in 1908. As for tall and lanky presidents, “you might have to go back to Abraham Lincoln” in 1860, says presidential historian Stephen Hess. “Most presidents were sort of in the middle.” – WSJ, 8-1-08

On the Campaign Trail….

  • Barack Obama speaking to Reporters about the race card in Florida, August 2, 2008: “In no way do I think that John McCain’s campaign was being racist. I think they’re cynical. And I think they want to distract people from talking about the real issues.”
  • Remarks by John McCain to the National Urban League Annual Conference, August 1, 2008:
    You’ll hear from my opponent, Senator Obama, tomorrow, and if there’s one thing he always delivers it’s a great speech. But I hope you’ll listen carefully, because his ideas are not always as impressive as his rhetoric. And this is especially true in the case of the Urban League’s agenda of opportunity. Your Opportunity Compact speaks of the urgent need to reform our public schools, create jobs, and help small businesses grow. You understand that persistent problems of failing schools and economic stagnation cannot be solved with the same tired ideas and pandering to special interests that have failed us time and again. And you know how much the challenges have changed for those who champion the cause of equal opportunity in America….

    Democrats in Congress, including my opponent, oppose the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. In remarks to the American Federation of Teachers last month, Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, “tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice.” All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?

    Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of “tired rhetoric” about education. We’ve heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position than about our children. We’ve heard it from politicians who accept the status quo rather than stand up for real change in our public schools. Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public school fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity….

    But one name is still missing, Senator Obama’s. My opponent talks a great deal about hope and change, and education is as good a test as any of his seriousness. The Education Equality Project is a practical plan for delivering change and restoring hope for children and parents who need a lot of both. And if Senator Obama continues to defer to the teachers unions, instead of committing to real reform, then he should start looking for new slogans….

    Senator Obama and I have fundamental differences on economic policy, and many of them concern tax rates. He supports proposals to raise top marginal rates paid by small business and families, to raise tax rates on those with taxable incomes of more than 32,000 dollars, raise capital gains taxes, raise taxes on dividends, raise payroll taxes and raise estate taxes. That’s a whole lot of raising, and for million s of families, individuals, and small businesses it will mean a lot less money to spend, save and invest as they see fit….

    Our country is passing through a very tough time. But Americans have been through worse, and beaten longer odds. The men and women of the Urban League know more than most about facing long odds, and overcoming adversity. For 98 years, this organization has been at the center of the great and honorable cause of equal opportunity for every American. I’m here today as an admirer and a fellow American, an association that means more to me than any other. I am a candidate for president who seeks your vote and hopes to earn it. But whether or not I win your support, I need your goodwill and counsel. And should I succeed, I’ll need it all the more. I have always believed in this country, in a good America, a great America. But I have always known we can build a better America, where no place or person is left without hope or opportunity by the sins of injustice or indifference. It would be among the great privileges of my life to work with you in that cause.

  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Town Hall on Energy, Cedar Rapids, IA, July 31, 2008: We know that Cedar Rapids needs more than immediate assistance, because the problems that you’re facing in your daily lives go beyond this year’s storms. I’ve often said that this election represents a defining moment in our history. You’re working harder for less, and for too many Americans, the dream of opportunity is slipping away. That’s why the decisions we make over the next few years will shape a generation, if not a century.Given the seriousness of the issues, you’d think we could have a serious debate. But so far, even the media has pointed out that Senator McCain has fallen back on predictable political attacks and demonstrably false statements. But here’s the problem. All of those negative ads that he’s running won’t do a thing to lower your gas prices or to lift up the debate in this country. The fact is, these Washington tactics do the American people a disservice by trying to distract us from the very real challenges that we face….Instead of offering any real plan to lower gas prices, Senator McCain touts his support for George Bush’s plan for offshore oil drilling. But even the Bush Administration acknowledges that offshore oil drilling will have little impact on prices. It won’t lower prices today. It won’t lower prices during the next Administration. In fact, we won’t see a drop of oil from this drilling for almost ten years. While this won’t save you at the pump, it sure has done a lot to raise campaign dollars. Last month, Senator McCain raised more than a million dollars from oil and gas company executives and employees – most of which came after he announced his drilling plan in front of a bunch of oil executives in Houston. This is not a strategy designed to end our energy crisis – it’s a strategy designed to get politicians through an election, and that’s exactly why Washington has failed to do anything about our energy dependence for the last thirty years.It’s time to ease the burden on working families. That’s why I support energy rebates that will provide immediate relief for the American people. You won’t have to trust the oil companies to pass the savings on to you – you will get these rebates directly….My energy plan will invest $150 billion over the next ten years to establish a new American energy sector, and Senator McCain’s won’t. We’ll create up to five million American jobs – good jobs, jobs that can’t be outsourced. And we’ll help American manufacturers – particularly in the auto industry – convert to green technology, and help workers learn the skills they need to stay ahead in the global economy.I’ve supported investments in alternative energy, and Senator McCain has opposed them. And as President, I’ll invest in renewable energies like wind power, solar power, and the next generation of homegrown biofuels. That’s how America is going to free itself from our dependence on foreign oil – not through short-term gimmicks, but through a real, long-term commitment to transform our energy sector. That’s what we can choose to do in this election.
  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Town Hall on the Economy, July 30, 2008: For millions of families, these anxieties seem to be growing worse with each passing day, causing many people to lose faith in that fundamental promise of America – that no matter where you come from, or what you look like, or who your parents are, this is a country where you can make it if you try…So we have a choice to make in this election. We can either choose a new direction for our economy, or we can keep doing what we’ve been doing. My opponent believes we’re on the right course. He’s said our economy has made great progress these past eight years. He’s embraced the Bush economic policies and promises to continue them. Our country and the working families of Missouri cannot afford that.These policies haven’t worked for the past eight years and they won’t work now. We need to leave these policies in the past where they belong. It’s time for something new. It’s time to restore balance and fairness to our economy so it works for all Americans, recognizing that we must grow together, Wall Street and Main Street, profits and wages.That starts with giving immediate relief to families who are one illness or foreclosure or pink slip away from disaster. To help folks who are having trouble filling up their gas tank, I’ll provide an energy rebate. To help hardworking Americans meet rising costs, I’ll put a $1,000 tax cut in the pockets of 95% of workers and their families, including 3 million folks here in Missouri. To help end this housing crisis, I’ll provide relief to struggling homeowners. And to protect retirement security, I’ll eliminate taxes for seniors making under $50,000 a year.If Senator McCain wants a debate about taxes in this campaign, that’s a debate I’m happy to have. Because while we’re both proposing tax cuts, the difference is who we’re cutting taxes for. Senator McCain would cut taxes for those making over $3 million. I’ll cut taxes for middle class families by three times as much as my opponent. Let me be clear: if you’re a family making less than $250,000, my plan will not raise your taxes – not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes. And unlike my opponent, I’ll pay for my plan – by cutting wasteful spending, shutting corporate loopholes and tax havens, and rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.But in this election, we can do something more than just provide short-term relief. We can secure our long-term prosperity and strengthen America’s competitiveness in the 21st century. It won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I refuse to accept that we cannot meet the challenges of our global economy. I’m running for President because I believe we can choose our own economic destiny.
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