Thursday, July 10, 2008

Straight Talk Express Derailed

The McCain Campaign is very much off-message and having problems coordinating its top surrogates and the campaign.

All week, McCain has been talking about the economy and has been trying to get past his incompetence on the issue (see here, here, and here). His genius economic plans includes both cutting taxes and balancing the budget. You read that right, he plans on both cutting revenue and cutting expenditures. How?
“The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.”
Of course! The victories in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wait, hasn't most of that money already been spent? And we're guaranteed victory in time to balance the budget? Right...

Well, either way, John McCain is in Michigan continuing his economy tour. Meanwhile his economic advisor, Sen. Phil Gramm (McCain's economic brain) spoke to the Washington Times and said
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.
He also said,
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,"
While we're on the subject of Phil Gramm, John McCain is showing bad judgment by associating with him. This is the Senator who wrote the Enron loophole, and the now UBS executive failed as an executive. Why would any Presidential candidate step within 10 miles of this man?

The other instance of bad coordination has to do with health care (another fairly important topic). From Dana Milbank's blog/column
Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief who is now the Republican National Committee’s “Victory Chairman,” was discussing consumer-driven health insurance at a breakfast with reporters when she proposed “a real, live example which I’ve been hearing a lot about from women: There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won’t cover birth-control medication. Those women would like a choice.”
This seems like a fairly basic talking point, but clearly McCain's staff did not brief him on the talking point. The campaign was not coordinating with the RNC's "Victory Chairman" or vice-versa. As I write this, Nancy Pfotenhauer, McCain's Senior Policy Advisor and Spokesperson is on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer endorsing Fiorina's point. But when McCain was asked about this, here was his response:

REPORTER: Insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control.

MCCAIN: I certainly don't want to discuss that issue.

REPORTER: It was unfair that health insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?

[awkward 8 second pause]

MCCAIN: I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer.

You can also read about it here.

It's hard to be "on message" about things you don't know.

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