The Connie Hair Report: Tracking the Tickets

Republican presidential running mates John McCain and Sarah Palin roared into Virginia yesterday in their first appearance together in this vital battleground state. Sans their opponent’s usual big-name band opening act to pull in crowds, the McCain-Palin rally drew an estimated 23,000 or more from across Virginia. Crowds packed into a hot and humid Van Dyke Park in Fairfax City to cheer for their candidates.

Photo by Karla Henwood

According to the campaign press office, this was the largest McCain-Palin rally to date.

Sen. Fred Thompson fired up the crowd as the lead-in to the main event with red meat jabs at the media, calling the swarm of tabloid press and reporters currently invading Alaska “scandal-mongerers.”

In the candidates’ speeches, both made reference to the stark contrast between McCain-Palin and their opponents. Palin said while Sen. Barak Obama during his tenure in the Senate was requesting as a “senatorial privilege” $1 billion in earmarks, she, as Governor of Alaska, “was vetoing a half billion dollars as an executive responsibility.”

McCain guaranteed the enthusiastic audience that he would use his veto pen on every pork-laden bill that came across his desk and expose those who try to hide the earmarks in these bills. “You will know their names and we’ll make them famous,” he said.

The circus continued as McCain-Palin ’08 also launched a new web ad yesterday responding to Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” remarks in Virginia on Tuesday. Within hours, YouTube pulled the “Lipstick” ad citing a copyright violation complaint from CBS. A clip of Katie Couric appears in the ad, found here.

Also launched today was the new McCain-Palin “Fact Check” television ad admonishing the “mini-army” of Obama lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers dispatched to Alaska in an effort to dig up dirt on Palin.

Obama-Biden ‘08

On the Democrat side of the race today, the Obama campaign continued doing spin control, seemingly unable to stop the barrage of verbal gaffes made by Democrats who are supposed to be on their side. Yet another outrageous comment was hurled at Gov. Sarah Palin, this time from South Carolina Democrat Chair Carol Fowler, who said that John McCain had chosen a running mate, "whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.”

Unsurprisingly, calls to Fowler’s office for comment by deadline were met with a merciless busy signal.

The Democrats got more bad news as the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday caused even more angst for the Obama camp. Only one month ago, McCain was polling in a dead heat with Obama for the votes of white women, but this new poll shows McCain now ahead in that crucial demographic 52% to 41%.

Sen. Joe Biden suffered an embarrassing gaffe at a campaign event Monday in Columbia when he asked Missouri State Sen. Chuck Graham, who is confined to a wheelchair, to stand up to be acknowledged.

Then things went from bad to worse for Biden. Yesterday in Nashua, New Hampshire, he told folks at a town hall meeting — while defending Sen. Hillary Clinton from a detractor — that she “… quite frankly might have been a better pick than me as Obama’s running mate.”
Obama’s campaign continued defending his “lipstick on a pig” remark, saying that the expression was used frequently in Washington, D.C. and that the McCain response was “a pathetic attempt to play the gender card.” To be fair, we have all heard the expression before, but it is not that common inside the beltway. What the lipstick gaffe proves is that Obama may be having buyer’s remorse. Palin’s success has him completely psyched out.

There is an expression that is used a great deal in D.C. in crisis communications situations that it appears Obama hasn’t yet learned: if you find you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging. If Obama can’t stop himself from running in a petulant popularity contest against Sarah Palin, he’s going to be in for a long winter.