August 25, 2008: Obama Chooses Joe Biden as his Running-Mate

The week that was….

Barack Obama and his running-mate Sen. Joe Biden in Springfield, Ill., August 23, 2008

Barack Obama and his running-mate Sen. Joe Biden in Springfield, Ill., August 23, 2008

  • August 23, 2008: Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama confirmed that he chose six term Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. CNN scooped Obama’s announcement reporting that the Democratic candidate had chosen Biden at 12:45am on Saturday, the campaign intended to send out the text messages at 8am, but then where forced to send them out at 2:45am. CNN Biden was chosen partially to compensate for Obama’s lack of foreign policy credentials, for his ability to play hardball with the opponent, and his appeal to working class voters. The Democratic ticket formally appeared together for the first time in a rally in Springfield, Illinois.
  • August 22, 2008: Speculation mounts as to who Obama will chose as his running mate. Hoax text messages were sent out prompting the Wall Street Journal to announce that Obama had chosen Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia as his running mate, which the paper had to quickly retract. The Obama campaign informed Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana that they were not chosen as Obama’s VP.
  • August 21, 2008: McCain Denver campaign offices received an envelope filled with white powder, which prompted an medical evaluation; it later proved to be a hoax and not anthrax. The Fall Presidential Candidate debates calendar was released and scheduled for Sept. 26, Oct. 7, and Oct. 15, with the Vice-Presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 2. – NYT, 8-21-08
  • August 20, 2008: GOP convention speakers announced: Rudy Giuliani will give the GOP convention Key note address; President Bush, Laura Bush and Dick Cheney to speak on first night, Sen. Joe Lieberman, a former Democratic VP candidate, will speak Monday. The speaker choices demontrates that “McCain wants showcase the GOP’s “diversity”,” McCain’s running mate will accept the nomination Wednesday, the same night Mitt Romney will speak. CNN, 8-20-08 McCain gives an interview to Politico.com, when asked about the number of homes he owns, McCain gaffes, saying he has to ask his staff. The Obama campaign jumps on this as an opportunity to show McCain is out of touch with American voters because of his family’s wealth. Senator Joe Biden emerges as the Democratic Party’s top choice for Obama running mate because of his foreign policy credential, and ability to attack the Republican opponent, two qualities Obama has been faltering with. AP, 8-20-08
  • August 19, 2008: Obama spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, and told them that he continues to support his position against the war in Iraq and the surge. Obama challenged McCain to stop questioning his “character and patriotism,” and said “Let me be clear: I will let no one question my love of this country.”
  • August 18, 2008: McCain spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention and told them that Obama’s position on Iraq is based primarily on his political aspirations and not for the good of the country. “With less than three months to go before the election, a lot of people are still trying to square Sen. Obama’s varying positions on the surge in Iraq. First, he opposed the surge and confidently predicted that it would fail. Then he tried to prevent funding for the troops who carried out the surge,” McCain said.

The Stats

  • August 24, 2008: In a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Sunday night: 47 percent are supporting Barack Obama the same number support John McCain a sharp contrast to polls in July when Obama had a 51 to 44 percent advantage. – CNN, 8-24-08
  • August 24, 2008: Washington Post-ABC News poll, showed Obama with 49 percent support and McCain with 45 percent.
  • August 24, 2008: An instant USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds for many Americans, though, the question is “Joe who?” Among those surveyed, 23% say they’ve never heard of the Delaware senator and another 28% say they don’t have an opinion of him. – USA Today, 8-24-08
  • August 20, 2008: McCain’s advantage is 50-40, a seven-point increase from Public Policy Polling’s July poll, which showed him leading by three points. Obama’s biggest issue is with white voters, who support McCain by a 56-35 margin, observers say. – St. Louis Business Journal, 8-20-08
  • August 19, 2008: A new Times/Bloomberg poll has Obama with 45% to McCain’s 43%, “a statistical dead heat.” – LA Times, 8-19-08

In the News…

  • Founding Fathers’ dirty campaign – CNN, 8-24-08
  • MIKE LITTWIN: The Obama phenomenon: a view to history in making Insights gained from 18 months on the campaign trail – Rocky Mountain News, 8-23-08
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin on 1968 chaos opened door for Obama 40 years later: “Had there been party leaders who had a major role in choosing the nominee this year it is probably much more likely it would have been a Hillary Clinton rather than a young Barack Obama,” said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin….. “The cautionary note of that convention to the party was to avoid at all costs the kind of open warfare on a platform issue and a large dispute that could take place in prime time,” said Kearns Goodwin. – AP, 8-23-08
  • 100th birthday party will celebrate LBJ’s legacy – Houston Chronicle, 8-23-08
  • Barack Obama: Are critics targeting his race? As the presidential campaign heats up, there is an elephant in the room – the colour of Barack Obama’s skin. Reporting from Mississippi, Philip Sherwell looks at how the nation’s troubled past is affecting his chances – and the challenges he is about to face – Telegraph, UK, 8-23-08

Candidate Bloopers

  • Joe Biden as the Springfield, Illinois rally introducing him as Obama’s Vice-Presidential running mate: “Ladies and gentlemen, my wife Jill, who you’ll meet soon, is drop dead gorgeous. My wife Jill, who you’ll meet soon, she also has her doctorate degree, which is a problem. But all kidding aside …” – LA Times, 8-23-08
  • Barack Obama introducing his running mate Joe biden for the first time in Springfield, Ill.: “So let me introduce to you, the next president, the next vice president of the United States of America – Joe Biden.”
  • When John McCain was asked by Politico how many houses he owns in an interview he responded: “I think — I’ll have my staff get to you… It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.” – Politico, 8-20-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Gil Troy: Channeling Cheney: Did Obama Overcompensate with Biden? – HNN, 8-24-08
  • Char Miller: ‘Change’ is the face of new America – Daily Bulletin, 8-23-08
  • Randall Miller on “Son of working-class Catholics, Biden may bolster Obama’s weak spots”: Randall Miller, a professor of history at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, noted that Philadelphia TV covers Biden extensively and reaches voters not just in the city and its suburbs but into the Lehigh Valley. Baltimore TV also covers him, and reaches into central Pennsylvania. “He is a very well known quantity here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the mother lode of votes in the state,” Miller said. – Kansas City Star, 8-23-08
  • Julian Zelizer on “Obama seeks to inspire US voters”: Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University, agreed Obama’s White House hopes may rest in defining himself, before Republican political shock troops do it for him. “If he doesn’t, he is going to have a big problem,” Zelizer said. “He has had a really difficult month in August, and the Republicans have done a pretty good job in framing him.” “I assume we are going to hear more contrast between what Democrats are about and what he is about versus McCain,” said Zelizer. “We are going to hear a lot of connecting between McCain and Bush.” – AFP, 8-24-08
  • Patty Limerick on “Obama prospecting for electoral gold in Old West”: Patty Limerick, a professor of history and environmental studies at the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West, said swathes of voters in the region have grown frustrated with the status quo of US politics. “There are growing numbers of voters who are scratching their heads and saying, ‘Where did my party go?’. And I’ve heard more Republicans than Democrats saying that,” Limerick told AFP. “The Republican Party has a great challenge in knitting together those people who are Republicans because they don’t want people interfering in their private lives, and the people who are Republicans because they want to interfere in other people’s private lives,” Limerick said. “Those aren’t groups that are easy to reconcile.” While national issues such as the state of the economy were certain to be at the forefront of voter concerns, the environment, energy policy and immigration were all likely to play a part in November elections, Limerick said. “There’s so much in our regional economy of construction, development, tourism, hospitality, agriculture, in which immigration labor is vital,” Limerick said. “And a lot of people realize that closing the border is going to lead to significant changes in things like food prices and food availability.” – AFP, 8-24-08
  • Jonathan Zimmerman on “Politicians OK if rich but not if seen as out of touch”: Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of education and history at New York University, sees “a curious American blend of romanticism and cynicism.” Americans, he said, “like to imagine their leaders once came from log cabins” and made good. But then they worry that the newfound wealth will affect their common touch – something not backed by the records of wealthy presidents such as the two Roosevelts and John F. Kennedy. Zimmerman said the stakes this year are heightened because “there is a sense that neither candidate is really a man of the people.” “They are both loaded compared to 95 or 97 percent of all Americans,” Zimmerman said. Yet Obama would not meet the definition of “rich” tentatively offered last week by McCain, a statement that has drawn scorn from liberal and conservative economists alike. – San Diego Union Tribune, 8-23-08
  • Donald Richie on “Politicians OK if rich but not if seen as out of touch”: Donald Ritchie, associate historian of the U.S. Senate, said, “People want politicians to be . . . somebody who is comfortable (with) and understands situations that the average person faces.” “But the first direct election was in 1914, and every incumbent senator who was running was re-elected,” Ritchie said. “The people elected the exact same people the state legislatures did.” – San Diego Union Tribune, 8-23-08
  • Ignacio Garcia on “Viva Obama Clubs target Latinos”: How successful those clubs will be remains to be seen, said Ignacio Garcia, a history professor at Brigham Young University and author of “Viva Kennedy: Mexican Americans in search of Camelot.” Garcia said the Kennedy clubs succeeded in speaking to the dreams and needs of Latinos. Further, they empowered a new generation of political leaders who eventually became mayors, congressman, governors and federal judges. “The question is whether Obama really inspires Latinos, and whether these groups can create a movement that will include the political majority of the community,” Garcia said. – San Diego Union Tribune, 8-23-08
  • Julian Zelizer on “Conventions: a bounce for the candidates”: “Campaigns are a multistage process – but the convention is a key step,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “That speech for both candidates constitutes a very important introduction to the nation,” says Mr. Zelizer. Christian Science Monitor, 8-21-08
  • Allan Lichtman on “McCain to Keep Pressure on Obama During Dems’ Convention”: “The candidate usually keeps a low profile during the opposition convention. Certainly Bush did in 2004,” American University history professor Allan Lichtman said. That said, he added: “I don’t think you give them the spotlight entirely.” Lichtman, a Maryland Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2006, said McCain needs to be careful not to over-respond, or he’ll be seen as going too negative. “He’s taken Obama down a peg … and he doesn’t want to overplay that hand,” Lichtman said. “It’s always a tightrope walk.” – Fox News, 8-21-08

On the Campaign Trail….

Script For “Passed Over” (TV :30)ANNCR: She won millions of votes.But isn’t on his ticket.Why?For speaking the truth.On his plans: HILLARY CLINTON: “You never hear the specifics.” ANNCR: On the Rezko scandal: HILLARY CLINTON: “We still don’t have a lot of answers about Senator Obama.” ANNCR: On his attacks: HILLARY CLINTON: “Senator Obama’s campaign has become increasingly negative.” ANNCR: The truth hurt. And Obama didn’t like it. JOHN MCCAIN: I’m John McCain and I approved this message.

Katie Couric’s interview with John McCain on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” August 24, 2008 I think he’s a good selection. Joe and I have been friends for many, many years, and we know each other very well, and so I think he’s made a very wise selection. I know that Joe will campaign well for Senator Obama, and so I think he’s going to be very formidable. Obviously, Joe and I have been on different philosophical sides, but we have been – I consider him a good friend and good man…. Well, I’ve always respected Joe Biden, but I disagreed with him from the time he voted against the first Gulf War to his position where he said you had to break Iraq up into three different counties. I never agreed with that. But I appreciate very much his dedication to trying to solve this genocide that’s going in Darfur and other things that Joe Biden has done. But we really have different approaches to many national security issues. I look forward to whoever my running mate will be having a respectful debate with him on that as well.

Senator Biden’s Remarks in Springfield, Ill:
I’ll say straight up to you – John McCain and the press knows this, is genuinely a friend of mine. I’ve known John for 35 years. He served our country with extraordinary courage and I know he wants to do right by America. But the harsh truth is, ladies and gentlemen, you can’t change America when you boast. And these are John’s words, quote, the most important issues of our day, I’ve been totally in agreement and support of President Bush. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what he said. You can’t change America when you supported George Bush’s policies 95% of the time. You can’t change America when you believe, and these are his own words, that in the Bush administration we’ve made great progress economically. You can’t change America and make things better for our senior citizens when you signed on to Bush’s scheme of privatizing social security. You can’t change America and give our workers a fighting chance when after 3 million manufacturing jobs disappear, you continue to support tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas. You can’t change America and end this war in Iraq when you declare and, again, these are John’s words, no one has supported President Bush in Iraq more than I have, end of quote. Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t change America, you can’t change America when you know your first four years as president will look exactly like the last eight years of George Bush’s presidency.

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Vice President Announcement Springfield, IL, August 23, 2008

Nineteen months ago, on a cold February day right here on the steps of the Old State Capitol, I stood before you to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America.

We started this journey with a simple belief: that the American people were better than their government in Washington – a government that has fallen prey to special interests and policies that have left working people behind. As I’ve travelled to towns and cities, farms and factories, front porches and fairgrounds in almost all fifty states – that belief has been strengthened. Because at this defining moment in our history – with our nation at war, and our economy in recession – we know that the American people cannot afford four more years of the same failed policies and the same old politics in Washington. We know that the time for change has come.

For months, I’ve searched for a leader to finish this journey alongside me, and to join in me in making Washington work for the American people. I searched for a leader who understands the rising costs confronting working people, and who will always put their dreams first. A leader who sees clearly the challenges facing America in a changing world, with our security and standing set back by eight years of a failed foreign policy. A leader who shares my vision of an open government that calls all citizens – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – to a common purpose. Above all, I searched for a leader who is ready to step in and be President.

Today, I have come back to Springfield to tell you that I’ve found that leader – a man with a distinguished record and a fundamental decency – Joe Biden.

Joe Biden is that rare mix – for decades, he has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn’t changed him. He’s an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are rooted firmly in the middle class. He has stared down dictators and spoken out for America’s cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track….

We know what we’re going to get from the other side. Four more years of the same out-of-touch policies that created an economic disaster at home, and a disastrous foreign policy abroad. Four more years of the same divisive politics that is all about tearing people down instead of lifting this country up.

We can’t afford more of the same. I am running for President because that’s a future that I don’t accept for my daughters and I don’t accept it for your children. It’s time for the change that the American people need.

Now, with Joe Biden at my side, I am confident that we can take this country in a new direction; that we are ready to overcome the adversity of the last eight years; that we won’t just win this election in November, we’ll restore that fair shot at your dreams that is at the core of who Joe Biden and I are as people, and what America is as a nation. So let me introduce you to the next Vice President of the United States of America…

Hillary Clinton’s formal comment on Obama’s choice of Biden as his running mate: In naming my colleague and friend Senator Joe Biden to be the vice presidential nominee, Senator Obama has continued in the best traditions for the vice presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant. Senator Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic vice president who will help Senator Obama both win the presidency and govern this great country.

Obama speaking in Chester, Va., August 21, 2008: “Somebody asked John McCain, ‘How many houses do you have?’ And he said, I’m not sure. I’ll have to check with my staff. True quote: I’m not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff. So they asked his staff and he said, at least four. At least four! … If you’re like me and you’ve got one house – or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don’t lose their home — you might have a different perspective. By the way, the answer is: John McCain has seven homes. So there’s just a fundamental gap of understanding between John McCain’s world and what people are going through every single day here in America.”

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers in response to Obama “Seven” ad, about the nuber of houses the McCain’s owns, August 21, 2008: “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people ‘cling’ to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who’s in touch with regular Americans? The reality is that Barack Obama’s plans to raise taxes and opposition to producing more energy here at home as gas prices skyrocket show he’s completely out of touch with the concerns of average Americans.

Obama on His Veep Thinking a Time interview Download

Barack Obama describing his ideal running-mate, 8-19-08:
I want somebody who has integrity, who’s in politics for the right reasons, I want somebody who is independent. Somebody who is able to say to me, ‘You know what, Mr. President, I think you’re wrong on this and here’s why,’ and who will help me think through major issues and consult with me, would be a key advisor. I want somebody who is capable of being president and who I would trust to be president. That’s the first criteria for VP. And the final thing is, I want a president (SIC) who shares with me a passion to make the lives of the American people better than they are right now. I want someone who is not in it just because they want to have their name up in lights or end up being president. I want somebody who is mad right now that people are losing their jobs. And is mad right now that people have seen their incomes decline, and wants to rebuild the middle class in this country. That’s the kind of person that I want; somebody who in their gut knows where they came from and believes that we have to grow this country from the bottom up.

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July 28, 2008: Obama’s Foreign Policy Tour, McCain on the Surge

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: HNN, July 28, 2008

The week that was….

  • July 27, 2008: Barack Obama is rejecting Republican criticism over his trip to the Middle East and Europe. Obama commented “John McCain has visited every one of these countries post-primary that I have,” he said. “So it doesn’t strike me that we have done anything different than the McCain campaign has done, which is to recognize that part of the job of the next president, commander in chief is to forge effective relationships with our allies.” He also claimed the Republican suggested he needed the trip to show he was serious and credible in the area of foreign policy.
    According to analysts the foreign leaders Obama met with on his trip treated the Democratoc nominees as if he was already the President of the United States. The only exception was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who did issue a statement about his speech in Berlin, praising his message but also embarassing him stating that “she did not think the historic Brandenburg Gate was a suitable venue for a political event by a traveling American.”
  • July 26, 2008: Obama is scoffing at McCain’s criticism over his scrapping plans to visit wounded soldiers at a German military hispital. Obama was scheduled to visit the soldier, but cited Pentagon security concerns as the reason behind his cancellation. The Pentagon has denied issuing any concerns. McCain has been very critical that Obama cancelled his trip to visit the soldiers, and started to run a TV ad which chides that Obama “time to go to the gym” but not to visit the troops and did not go because it “Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras,” and concludes “John McCain is always there for our troops.” The ad is airing in Colorado, Pennsylvania and the Washington D.C. area.
  • July 25, 2008: An aide to Obama claimed that the Democratic candidate scrapped his planned visit to wounded soldier in Germany because the Pentagon said it would put the soldiers in the middle of campaign contraversay. In response McCain’s campaign spokesman Brian Rogers stated “Barack Obama is wrong. It is never ‘inappropriate’ to visit our men and women in the military.”On Friday, McCain met for 45 minutes with the Dalai Lama and the Republican candidate urge China to release Tibetan prisoners. “I urge the Chinese government to release Tibetan political prisoners, account for Tibetans who have, quote, ‘disappeared’ since protests in March, and engage in meaningful dialogue on genuine autonomy for Tibet,” McCain said. The Dalai Lama however, said he would not endorse McCain.On Friday, Obama continued his European tour meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy where they spoke at a press conference, and Sarkozy came close to endorsing Obama by calling him “my dear Barack Obama.” During the conference Obama and Sarkozy sent “a clear message to Iran to end its illicit nuclear program.”McCain spoke to Hispanic military veterans, and criticized Obama’s opposition to the “surge” stating “We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right” and “Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened.”
  • July 24, 2008: Obama commenced his day in Thursday completing the Middle East portion of his foreign policy tour. He made a short 15 minute pre-dawn visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, where he bowed in prayer and put a note in the crevice of the wall. One heckler among the morning prayers screamed out “Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale!”Obama started his European tour visiting Germany, France and England by meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama then spoke to a crowd of 200,000 people at the Victory Column in Berlin Germany where he asked Americans and Europeans to work together and “defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it.”
    At the same time McCain was visiting the American heartland and a German restaurent in Ohio. At Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood, the Republican candidate ate bratwurst with local businessmen, telling reporters. “I’d love to give a speech in Germany. But I’d much prefer to do it as president of the United States rather than as a candidate for president.”
    McCain held a town-hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio on cancer with Lance Armstrong.

    Republican Chuck Hagel who accompanied Obama on his Middle East troop criticized McCain saying “Quit talking about, ‘Did the surge work or not work,’ or, ‘Did you vote for this or support this,'” and “Get out of that. We’re done with that. How are we going to project forward?”

  • July 23, 2008: McCain faced Democratic Party criticism about comments he made in a Tuesday CBS interview about when the surge in the Iraq War commenced. He claimed “Because of the surge, we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening.” Explaining his comments McCain stated “A surge is really a counterinsurgency made up of a number of components. … I’m not sure people understand that ‘surge’ is part of a counterinsurgency.”
    Obama will spend $5 million on ads to air on NBC during the Olympics.
    Obama spent his only day in Israel touring and laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, took a helicopter tour of the country and visited Sderot, a town battered by bombs from Gaza. Obama met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his visit, and promised “I’m here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment to Israel’s security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a U.S. senator or as president.”
    Obama also “rode past an Israeli checkpoint into Ramallah on the West Bank” and he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas assured him that he supports a Palestinian state living along with Israel.
    During a town hall meeting McCain credited President Bush’s lifting the ban on offshore drilling for the “$10-a-barrel drop in the price of oil.”
  • July 22, 2008: Upon arriving in Jordan, the first stop in his Middle East tour, Obama gave a press conference where he would not claim the troop surge help curb violence in Iraq. Speaking of Gen. David Petraeus’ opposition to his proposed timetable Obama stated: “I think he wants maximum flexibility to be able to — to do what he believes needs to be done inside of Iraq. But keep in mind, for example, one of Gen. Petraeus’ responsibilities is not to think about how could we be using some of that $10 billion a month to shore up a U.S. economy that is really hurting right now. If I’m president of the United States, that is part of my responsibility.” In response a McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds stated “By admitting that his plan for withdrawal places him at odds with Gen. David Petraeus, Barack Obama has made clear that his goal remains unconditional withdrawal rather than securing the victory our troops have earned.”
    Obama also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
  • July 21, 2008: Visiting Iraq, Obama and Sens. Chuck Hagel, (R) Nebraska, and Jack Reed, (D) Rhode Island issued a joint statemnt that Iraqi want a timetable for troop removal. “Prime Minister Maliki told us that while the Iraqi people deeply appreciate the sacrifices of American soldiers, they do not want an open-ended presence of U.S. combat forces. The prime minister said that now is an appropriate time to start to plan for the reorganization of our troops in Iraq — including their numbers and missions. He stated his hope that U.S. combat forces could be out of Iraq in 2010.”
    McCain visited with the first President Bush and ridiculed Obama’s military credentials, stating “When you win wars, troops come home. He’s been completely wrong on the issue. … I have been steadfast in my position.” McCain also blamed the Democratic candidate for higher prices because he opposes offshore drilling and made the energy position central to a new campaign ad.
    The New York Times defended its decision not publish McCain op-ed which responded to Obama’s July 14 one in the NYT about the Iraq War. They said they usually require the author’s revisions and McCain did not agreed to it. However McCain camp released NYT Op-ed editor David Shipley e-mail where he wrote “that McCain’s article would “have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan.”

The Stats

  • CNN’s “poll of polls” this past week reported Obama leading John McCain 44 percent to 41 percent.
  • July 25, 2008: According to surbey by nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center Hispanics support Sen. Barack Obama for president over Republican Sen. John McCain, 66 percent to 23 percent, with 11 percent undecided. – The Desert Sun, CA, 7-25-08
  • July 24, 2008: A Gallup Poll Daily tracking claim that Obama and McCain are running 45 percent for Obama to 43 percent for McCain.

Historians’ Comments

  • Harold Cox, professor emeritus of history at Wilkes College on “Small-town Pennsylvanians still unsure of Obama and McCain”
    “It’s old, it’s white, it’s conservative and it’s Democratic,” said Harold Cox, professor emeritus of history at Wilkes College. People here grew up Democratic, and Democratic nominees carried Luzerne and Lehigh Counties in every election since 1992. – McClatchy Washington Bureau, DC, 7-27-08
  • Gil Troy, a McGill University history professor and presidential scholar on “A Kennedyesque future may await Obama”:
    “The Kennedys’ moving into the White House in 1961 was a cultural bombshell. You had this beautiful, glamourous young couple with small adorable children plus the Kennedy mythology behind it. For Irish Catholics, it meant, ‘we made it.’… There will be, as there always is, a downturn after the initial honeymoon, and it will be a test of the African-American community as to whether they can deal with him being treated like anybody else.” – London Free Press, CA, 7-27-08
  • Gil Troy on “Barack Obama’s mad rush toward the middle”:
    But Gil Troy, for one, perceives that Obama is returning to his centrist origins, as well as heeding the rules of post-primary positioning. “When you read Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, or when you hear his 2004 speech to the Democratic convention,” Troy says, “that’s a much more centrist vision than what we saw in the primaries….” – Montreal Gazette, 7-23-08
  • Randall Miller, a professor of history at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia discussing town hall meetings in swing voting areas in “McCain stresses energy policy, slams Obama”:
    “He gets lots of local ink out of them, in places where he needs to do well,” said Randall Miller, a professor of history at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. – McClatchy Washington Bureau, DC, 7-23-08
  • Robert Dallek on “Bush Failures May Force McCain, Obama to Make Like FDR in 2009”:
    “What a burden the next president is going to confront,” says Robert Dallek, a presidential historian and biographer of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. “It’ll be like Franklin Roosevelt coming in, in 1933.” – Bloomberg, 7-20-08
  • Stephen Hess on “Bush Failures May Force McCain, Obama to Make Like FDR in 2009”:
    The next president is “going to wake up very quickly to the fact that the economy so overwhelms everything else,” says Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington. – Bloomberg, 7-20-08
  • Douglas Brinkley on “Barack Obama lands in Afghanistan on first leg of world tour”
    “If Obama says he represents a new politics, he’s certainly smashing an old paradigm by going,” the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, of Rice University in Texas, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “And for 10 days, he’ll own the media. It’s gigantic for him.” – Guardian, UK, 7-19-08
  • Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University on “Fierce pressure on Obama in Europe-Mideast tour”:
    “This is one of those things that is high risk, but he has no choice,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, noting polls that show voter disquiet over Obama’s inexperience. “If he pulls this kind of trip off, it is a huge payoff because this is his only real weakness at this point.” – AFP, 7-17-08
  • David R. Colburn is a professor of history at the University of Florida “McCain as Truman, Obama as RFK”:
    …McCain reminds me a lot of Harry Truman. I know: Truman was a Democrat. But like Truman, McCain does not hesitate to speak his mind. He has also been accused of being impatient and having a temper, much like Truman. Some partisans take issue with McCain’s unwillingness to conform to the party line, but, as with Truman, he seems to understand that the issues facing the nation are so complex that only a bipartisan approach will ensure successful solutions. … Obama lacks the experience of McCain, but he is one of the brightest minds that has appeared on the national political scene since World War II. I am not easily taken in by a candidate’s speaking ability or rhetoric, but Obama has made me a convert. He reminds me a good deal of Robert F. Kennedy, in that Obama has a magnetic quality when speaking to audiences and an incredible skill at pulling diverse audiences together…. – Orlando Sentinel, 7-17-08
  • Charles J. Holden and Zach Messitte: Choosing a No. 2:
    ….As Senators Obama and McCain ponder a running mate, they would do well to weigh carefully the tactical and the practical benefits of their top choices for the No. 2 spot.
    Voters, for their part, should demand that the presidential nominees think beyond November and reward the candidate who selects a running mate who adds both political and policy benefits to the ticket. – Baltimore Sun, 7-14-08

On the Campaign Trail….

  • John McCain interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, July 27, 2008 ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “There’s also been a flap about Senator Obama’s decision in Germany not to visit the troops at Landstuhl. He now says that, based on what he was hearing from the Pentagon, there was no way that wouldn’t be seen as a political trip, which is why he decided not to go. Do you accept that explanation?” John McCain: “Well, I know this, those troops would have loved to have seen him. And I know of no Pentagon regulation that would have prevented him from going there without the media and the press and all of the associated people. Nothing that I know of would have kept him from visiting those wounded troops. And they are gravely wounded, many of them.”…”In Landstuhl, Germany, when I went through, I visited the hospital. But the important thing is that, if I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event. And so, I believe he had the opportunity to go without the media. And I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.”…”There was nothing to prevent him from going, if he went without the press and the media and his campaign people. But we’ll see what happens.””I think people make a judgment by what we do and what we don’t do. He certainly found time to do other things.”
  • Remarks by John McCain to the Americans with Disabilities Conference, July 26, 2008 … One of the most fundamental principles of all is that the presence of a disability should not mean the absence of choice. When the government does its duty by extending aid to Americans with disabilities, it should not do so in a heavy-handed way that restricts personal freedom. I will work to enact legislation that would build on the principles of the Money Follows the Person Initiative, while also keeping my commitment to a responsible budget. The offer of assistance in living with a disability should not come with the condition of perpetual confinement to an institutional setting. The great goal here should be to increase choices, to expand freedom, to open doors, and to allow citizens with disabilities to live where they want and to go where they wish.Everyone who seeks the presidency brings to the office his or her own experiences. And one of the finest experiences in my life has been to witness the power of human courage to overcome adversity. I have seen it in war, in prison camps, and in military hospitals. I have seen the capacity of men and women to overcome the hardships, challenges, and bad breaks that life can bring our way. How we face such obstacles can define our lives. And how we support one another at those times can define the character of our country. You at the AADP have seen these same qualities of courage, determination, and grace — you have seen them in each other. And when you enlist your fellow citizens in the cause of equality and fairness for Americans with disabilities, you call upon the best that is in our country.
  • Remarks By John McCain At The American GI Forum, July 25, 2008 ….Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn’t just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better….Three weeks after Senator Obama voted to deny funding for our troops in the field, General Ray Odierno launched the first major combat operations of the surge. Senator Obama declared defeat one month later: “My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.” His assessment was popular at the time. But it couldn’t have been more wrong….Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened. Our military, strained by years of sacrifice, would have suffered a demoralizing defeat. Our enemies around the globe would have been emboldened. Terrorists would have seen our defeat as evidence America lacked the resolve to defeat them. As Iraq descended into chaos, other countries in the Middle East would have come to the aid of their favored factions, and the entire region might have erupted in war. Every American diplomat, American military commander, and American leader would have been forced to speak and act from a position of weakness.Senator Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth. From the early days of this war, I feared the administration was pursuing a mistaken strategy, and I said so. I went to Iraq many times, and heard all the phony explanations about how we were winning. I knew we were failing, and I told that to an administration that did not want to hear it. I pushed for the strategy that is now succeeding before most people even admitted that there was a problem.Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right. Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Senator Obama, detecting the success he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he had always predicted it. There have been almost no sectarian killings in Baghdad for more than 13 weeks. American casualties are at the lowest levels recorded in this war. The Iraqi Army is stronger and fighting harder. The Iraqi Government has met most of the benchmarks for political progress we demanded of them, and the nation’s largest Sunni party recently rejoined the government. In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat, but on the road to victory.
  • Obama’s Speech in Berlin ….Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other….Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

    Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

    Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

    People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

    I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

    But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

    These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

    People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

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