In a conference call just now, the Obama campaign sought to refocus the terms of the debate back onto the economy and John McCain’s close connection to George Bush and his detachment from the struggles of the American middle class.
But it was clear from the questions asked on the call that the media is not done talking about Sarah Palin.
One reporter asked if the McCain campaign was effectively swift-boating Obama with Palin.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe responded with little mention of Palin, but said that with McCain, “You will get two for one.”
“George Bush’s economic policies and Dick Cheney’s foreign policy,” he said.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois added, “John McCain is more of the same.”
When asked what might be the dangers of taking a sharper line against McCain, as a new for-public-consumption strategy memo from Plouffe suggests, again, the campaign will do, Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois said “Nothing, in my view. Because I think the American people know this is a big election.”
Indicative of the bump the Obama campaign has hit, Plouffe at one point in the call defended the camapign’s slip in the polls by saying, “ I believe at the end of the day Florida will be a battleground state.”
Here’s the memo:
TO: Interested Parties FR: David Plouffe, Campaign Manager RE: Heading into the Final Stretch DA: September 12, 2008 _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Summary With both conventions and the vice-presidential selections behind us, the campaign is now heading into the final stretch. The race has settled into a tight race nationally with Obama well-positioned in the key battleground states, a historic enthusiasm gap, and a debate being waged on Obama’s home turf – change. In recent weeks, John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people. But as Barack Obama said earlier this week “enough is enough.” This election is too important and the challenges too big to spend the next 54 days talking about trivial non-issues. Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign, and today we are releasing two new ads that go directly at the fundamental issue in this race: John McCain is out of touch with the American people and unable to address the challenges facing the country in the 21st century and bring about real change, and that Barack Obama is the candidate who will bring about change that works for the middle class. We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people. We will not allow John McCain and his band of Karl Rove disciples to make this big election about small things. Senator Biden will be integral to that effort, both in pushing back on the lies that we’ll continue to see from our opponents, and in keeping the debate focused on delivering for everyday Americans. After all, that’s what Joe Biden has done throughout his career: passing the Crime Bill to put more cops on our streets, passing to the landmark Violence Against Women Act, and serving as a steadfast voice every day for those more concerned about the price of gas and saving for retirement than the latest political charade in Washington. A Change Election with Two Converts For the entire general election campaign, the McCain campaign has insisted that years in Washington should be the yardstick by which Americans measure their next President. But in recent days, and with his selection of a running mate with no Washington experience, Senator McCain has abandoned his core argument. Now he and his strategists have belatedly come to the realization that, after eight disastrous years, the American people are demanding change. So the candidate who just months ago was openly boasting that he has been a faithful supporter of George W. Bush’s policies, and would continue them as President, now is improbably scrambling to offer himself as the candidate who will deliver the change America needs – even as President Bush holds a fundraiser for him today in Oklahoma. This is a debate we welcome. It is the debate America needs. For two decades, Barack Obama has challenged political insiders and outworn thinking to bring about real, meaningful change that helps people, not special interests. From welfare reform, to tax relief for working families, to health care for children of working families who lacked coverage, Obama has been at the forefront of fights that have made a difference in the lives of everyday Americans. In Washington, Obama has been a consistent opponent of the Bush policies that have hobbled our economy and weakened the middle class, and his proposals for the future would steer us away from that disastrous course. He’s challenged leaders of both parties by passing landmark reforms that took dead aim at the campaign contributions and favors through which corporate lobbyists have rigged the system. He worked across the aisle to pass laws reining in no-bid contracts and opening the budget process to the American people. And Obama has lived by those principles in this campaign, refusing the contributions of Washington lobbyists and political action committees and imposing those same rules on the Democratic National Committee. Lobbyists don’t run his campaign. And when he’s President, they won’t run his White House. But what about John McCain? Can we really expect change from a Senator who supported the Bush policies 90 percent of the time? Who has said the Bush policies have brought about “great progress economically” and who just three weeks ago proclaimed the economy fundamentally strong? The fact is that while he mouths the word “change,” Senator McCain’s record and proposals scream “more of the same.” His plans for the economy, energy, health care, education and Iraq barely stray from the Bush policies that are in place today. And can we really expect change from a candidate whose campaign is being run by some of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in Washington? While Senator McCain loudly declares that he will tell the special interests in Washington that their day is “over,” they are working overtime to elect him. Seven of the top officials in his campaign are lobbyists. Between them, they have lobbied for Big Oil, the drug and insurance industries, foreign governments—even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. His campaign manager routinely lobbied for corporations who had business before the Senate Commerce Committee that McCain chaired. Corporate Lobbyists and PACs have contributed millions of dollars to his campaign and the Republican National Committee on his behalf. Does anyone believe they are spending their time, money and energy to put themselves out of business? That is not change. It’s more of the same. A debate about delivering change is a debate we’re happy to have. Because no matter how many times McCain and Governor Palin use the word “change” or try to reinvent their own records, one thing stays the same: the fact that when it comes to the economy, education, Iraq, or the special interests’ stranglehold on Washington, they both are stubborn defenders of the past eight years and they both promise more of the same. One final note: Senator McCain has called the news media “his base” because of the friendly treatment he has received. And he undoubtedly is counting on his “base” to overlook the gulf between his newly minted “change” message, and the realities of his record and campaign. His lobbyist-manager said Sunday that Governor Palin would only submit to questions about her record, statements and views when they determine that the news media will treat her with due “deference”-a startling and arrogant new standard for public officials in our democracy. But we trust that the obvious conflicts between their rhetoric and records, their promises and their plans will not go unreported in the last 53 days of this campaign.