Election 2008 – Convention Mania, Attack Ads and VP Fever

by WALTER ANDERSON August 27, 2008


It’s Obama and Biden
Early last Saturday morning, in the dead hours between 3 and 5 a.m., Obama finally named his vice presidential running mate: Joe Biden, a fellow liberal who has been the Democrat Senator from Delaware for 36 years. Biden himself has been a Presidential candidate twice.
His first run for the nomination was in 1988. Problems arose for Biden when it was determined he plagiarized a campaign speech and also a law review article. When he was presented with these “questionable situations,” Biden withdrew his name from the race.
Biden’s second attempt was more recent – the current presidential race. He was the first Democrat to officially announce his candidacy and he officially dropped out one year later after garnering only 1% of the primary vote in Iowa.
Obama’s choice of Biden is strange to say the least. One year ago, Biden told FOX NEWS that he would never run for Vice President. In addition, he seems to have a problem with saying things that are taken as inappropriate and/or offensive. The most famous of his utterances of late regarded none other than Barack Obama. Early on in the primary campaign he said, in part, “"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, I mean, that's a storybook, man,” which raised the ire of many Obama supporters. He also – probably unintentionally – maligned Indian-Americans who own or operate fast food franchises. In the early debates, Biden came down hard on Obama for his inexperience and poor foreign policy judgment. Biden has also stated in the past that “Barack Obama is not ready to be president.”
You may recall that in 2004 Biden endorsed a Kerry – McCain ticket to bring unity to the Senate. He stated that McCain was a Senator who has successfully crossed the aisle to get things done and has shown the ability to work with Democrats. In addition, Biden stated “I would be honored to run with or against John McCain. I think the country would be better off.” The McCain campaign has already taken the opportunity to remind the voting public of these sentiments by Biden.
To Biden’s credit, he is considered an expert in foreign affairs and national security - two areas where Obama is lacking in experience and is no doubt looking to Biden to solidify the team. In addition, the 36 years that Biden has in the Senate bring a world of experience in government that Obama does not have (and has been pounded on about by the McCain campaign). Biden has great support among the blue collar voters and that is another area that Obama could use some help with.
While Biden may certainly help Obama in the areas mentioned, will some of his past antics detract from the Obama campaign?
Convention Mania
The Democrat Convention in Denver is in full swing, and will be followed by the Republicans in Minneapolis September 1st thru the 4th. These two conventions will undoubtedly be the most watched of all conventions. Why? Election 2008 will sure to go down in history as the most controversial election regardless of WHO the winner is.
The opening night of the Democrat Convention was considered by many pundits to be boring. None of the speakers mention either George Bush or John McCain, and shots of the delegates on television showed a noticeable lack of the excitement that is generally palpable during these events. Interestingly enough, there are five times as many media representatives at the convention as there are delegates. But there are still two days to go, with the grand finale of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at Denver Stadium.
Final Thoughts on the Saddleback Interviews
The interview of Obama and McCain by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church appears to have been a more than “just another interview” of political figures. John McCain passed with flying colors while Barack Obama failed. To use a phrase I must have read a hundred times since the interviews, McCain sounded and responded as a President should. His answers were full of self-confidence and reflective of his experience while Obama was less than inspiring and often appeared to falter and search for ways to answer. I think it another example that Obama has great appeal when he is reading a teleprompter, or even in a conversational setting as shown in his appearances on The View and Oprah have shown. It is a completely different story when he is subjected to direct questions without the ability to prepare, he stumbles, hesitates and when he doesn’t know the answer he “talks around it.” Both men received the same questions and by listening to both, the contrast was glaringly obvious.
McCain is Becoming More Visible
I recently noted that Obama was everywhere, sort of like Mickey Mouse in the Disney-saturated world of Orlando, Florida, and that I thought McCain was lacking much-needed time in the public eye. Well, I don’t know what caused it but his handlers must have decided the same thing and they have put more emphasis on his being noticed and talked about. The odd thing is how they are getting news organizations and TV talk shows to give him the attention he needs: they are having him talk about Obama! They have begun a campaign of countering Obama’s ads and are developing some of their own that are very pointed. Obama’s people have screamed negative campaigning but I think it is smart campaigning.
Neck and Neck
Last week, every major poll with the exception of the New York Times had McCain within the margin of error and several showed McCain higher than ever before. The Realclearpolitics ratings of favorable/unfavorable for each candidate were close enough to call them a tie for the period of 07/25 – 08/19. Why McCain has been steadily gaining popularity? I can’t help but wonder if Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe had a negative effect on his candidacy. It will be interesting to see if both candidates get the traditional bounce in the polls after their respective conventions, especially seeing as Obama received no bounce after the announcement of his VP pick.
Obama Starts Attacks against McCain
While Barack Obama was vacationing in Hawaii, his staff was evidently working diligently on new and more negative ads directed against John McCain. He is targeting specific ads to specific battleground states. XM P.O.T.U.S. 130 had a segment this week about Obama’s tougher position in his ads and that he is stressing “The Economy” in areas like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and several other states hit hard by rocketing prices and layoffs. His ads regarding McCain’s support for the Iraq War and its effect on the economy are running in Iowa and Florida with a dozen other states sensitive to this on his agenda. The ad in Ohio about the DHL shipping company being sold to foreign interests (the ad repeatedly uses the word “foreign” to grab the listeners attention) and the hub closing leading to thousands of people losing jobs points at free-trade as the culprit and McCain pushing free-trade.
Yet McCain is not sitting idly by, letting these attack ads go unanswered - as fast as the Obama ads go out, there is a response ad issued. McCain has even put together a response ad in Spanish and English to offset Obama’s ad attacking McCain’s position on the economy.
Interestingly enough, the Obama campaign is trying to convince television outlets not to run an ad produced by a group called the American Issues Project about Obama’s relationship with unrepentant domestic terrorist. In addition, the campaign is asking the Department of Justice to investigate American Issues.
Just so neither candidate’s ads are missed by ANYONE, they are put on the Internet as well. The age of technology has made things possible in this election that was never available before! With the election less than 70 days away, it is a sure bet there will be more ads showing up on television and the Internet. The ads will probably get more and more negative as time goes on.
Looking for More Info?
From time to time, I use information I find on a website called POLFEEDS, which “attempts to bring together all RSS feeds offered by U.S. Politicians in one place.” The feeds are categorized by type, popular politician, government office, party, state and even type of discussion. There are videos and blogs, news articles and press releases, op-ed and photos. They post bills, committee statements, hearings and floor statements. There are also speeches and transcripts. POLFEEDS is a political junkies dream. It is especially useful now as you can see, hear or read the data before the media has a chance to put their particular slant on it.
Another website that I use constantly is REFDESK. This site has more reference materials than you could ever use. The “news category” can find current, up-to-the-minute news, different topics, news photos, news videos, news sources and more. There are government sites and computer information sites. The information junkie will overdose at this website!
The Hill carries articles about almost everything that happens in D.C. and it does not show favor to one party or another. You will find data on the conventions with specifics on the delegates and the speakers, blogs from Congress and pundits, and a myriad of other sub-sites loaded with D.C. information. You might want to bookmark this one for up to date information until the election and after.
Finally, let’s look at NEWSVINE politics. Newsvine has more than twelve sub-areas of data to access covering everything from science to sports. There are many current news stories from a number of sources and of course the election/conventions are taking up a lot of ink. For example, I was reading one recently entitled “Who’s Partying with Your Lawmakers?” Apparently, there are more than 400 convention parties given by large companies in addition to the huge lobbying parties. If your’re looking for insight on who spends what on what for what, this site is for you.
Until next time …
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Walter Anderson has an extensive background in business, served in the Marine Corps, and is experienced in grassroots political activism. Feedback: editorialdirector@familysecuritymatters.org.

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