Sarah Palin is McCain’s pick

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, is to be John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee, according to CNN. If elected, she would be the first female vice-president.

It’s going to be a historic campaign — either the first black President, or the first female VP, will be elected. Now, I wonder what effect the selection of Gov. Palin will have on Hillary Clinton’s disenchanted women supporters…

CNN reports that she’s a long-time NRA member, which will boost the gun community’s trust in the ticket, but why not Mitt Romney? Michigan’s 17 electoral votes — and a boost on the economy angle — surely would’ve helped.

CNN’s McCain wish

Hmm…
CNN The Situation Room screencapture of John McCain, with a caption reading \"(D) Presidential Candidate\"

Simple mistake, or something deeper showing through? CNN obviously wishes Senator McCain was a Democrat…

McCain aide misspeaks, senator distances self from remarks

Heard what Charlie Black has had to say recently? Mr Black’s an adviser to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

The gist of it is this: that a terrorist attack on the United States in the months leading up to November would boost Senator McCain’s campaign.

Of course, Sen McCain quickly repudiated the comments: “I cannot imagine why he would say it. It’s not true. I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear.”

Let’s face it though — Charlie Black knew what he was saying is, to an extent, true. There are multiple versions as to how this may be true — the BBC’s Justin Webb believes that the terrorists would want a McCain presidency for certain reasons (funny, wasn’t Senator McCain saying at one stage Hamas would like Barack Obama in office?).

Charlie Black is right to an extent, in my view. An attack would serve McCain’s campaign by giving him a chance to show off his much-touted experience. Whether it would benefit Senator McCain’s campaign is another matter. And indeed, these remarks haven’t.

Richardson gives Obama backing

The long-awaited Bill Richardson endorsement has gone to Senator Barack Obama. Governor Richardson (NM), who himself was in the race early on but withdrew following the New Hampshire primary, is expected to make a statement in Portland, OR later today, according to the BBC.

The timing of this appears crucial; it comes nearly exactly one month to the crucial Pennsylvania primary and in the same week as Sen Obama’s dramatic speech about race in the United States, following comments his pastor made in 2001 about the September 11 attacks which were publicised once again this week.

With Sen Obama’s deficit in Pennsylvania to Sen Hillary Clinton having grown since late-February — he now trails by an average of 13 percentage points — this endorsement can only come as a boost.

Another interesting thing of note is a recent Franklin and Marshall poll, which suggests that among Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, 19–20% of them would vote for Republican nominee John McCain in the presidential election in November should their preferred candidate lose to the other Democrat in the race.

This RealClearPolitics aggregation of polls from this past week is really telling of that fact — John McCain has, for the first time, surged past both Sen Clinton and Sen Obama in opinion polls for the presidential election.

Will he be able to hang on to that lead, though?

Pew study: If Obama is candidate, some Dems may vote McCain

Was reading Justin Webb‘s latest blog post today, and he links to a National Journal article which in turn cites a recent Pew Research Center study, dated February 28, 2008:

Summary of Findings: Obama Has The Lead, But Potential Problems Too

I found this bit particularly interesting:

Although attention has been focused on McCain’s problems with the GOP base, there are indications that some Democrats might defect if Obama is the party’s nominee. Overall, 20% of white Democratic voters say they would vote for McCain if Obama is the Democratic nominee. That is twice the percentage of white Democrats who say they would support McCain in a Clinton-McCain matchup. Older Democrats (ages 65 and older), lower-income and less educated Democrats also would support McCain at higher levels if Obama rather than Clinton is the party’s nominee.

Justin Webb asks if this is “Racism or educationism?”

It’s a good question and tough to call. I would, personally, argue that less-educated people (not just Democrats) would be more susceptible to making racially-based judgements, so it’s probably a little bit of both. Then again, is it really a surprise? What the study does not consider (or at least, was not considered in the published report) is the widespread concern (yes, there is one) that Sen Obama, with his flawless poise, could go the way of two people he has been compared to – Dr Martin Luther King Jr and former President John F. Kennedy. It is still possible that out of concern for him, some people would rather vote Sen McCain over Sen Obama.

Other interesting findings include one about Sen McCain’s age:

Nearly a third of all voters (32%) believe that, at 71 years old, McCain is too old to be president, while 66% say that being 71 does not make him too old. Opinions about whether McCain is too old to be president are comparable with views about Bob Dole during the 1996 campaign. In March 1996, 34% said Dole, who would have been 73 upon inauguration, was too old, while 63% said he was not.

Arguably Sen McCain would be a single-term president at his age. However, surely you should be judging people based on whether they’re qualified for the job or not? My personal opinion is that Sen McCain is more qualified than Sen Obama, and I would hope his age doesn’t count against him. Even a single-term presidency for Sen McCain would be better than a half-term for Sen Obama, especially when we start talking about foreign affairs and the War in Iraq – which I will get to now.

Pew findings about War in Iraq
(Graphic: Pew Research Center)

This certainly suggests that the American public do feel that things are improving in Iraq. Since the military troop surge, security and safety in Iraq has improved slightly. Although suicide bombings and kidnappings continue, they certainly are not at the rate as they were in 2004.

If you ask most Iraqis, many of them want the Americans to stay put. Some of them, including the government in Baghdad, want the Americans to help with Iraq’s development. Others say the U.S. should finish what it started in a “you came here and wrecked this place, you stay here and clean it up” kind of way.

On last week’s BBC Radio 4 From Our Own Correspondent programme, the BBC’s Hugh Sykes in Baghdad interviewed Baghdad residents over the electricity issue – there is just not enough power in the country. And, as with any report about Iraq, the story touched on terrorism. One respondent told him, “If America leaves, there will be a massacre.”

That’s where the American Presidential race comes back into play. As we all know, both Sens Obama and Clinton want troops out of Iraq and have promised to start withdrawing troops if elected. Sen McCain backed the troop surge and would likely keep a fairly sizeable number of forces stationed in the country.

It’s the United States that is maintaining security in the region right now, not Iraq. If the U.S. withdraw, widespread violence could easily spill over into neighbouring countries, and the price of oil – already at a record high $109 – could easily spike further. It appears to me Sen Obama and Sen Clinton are oblivious to this.

Back to the Pew study. Sen Obama, very obviously, has the lead; the report says “70% of Democratic voters — including 52% of those who support Clinton — say that Obama is most likely to win the Democratic presidential nomination.” Unfortunately for the Democrats, with Florida and Michigan both making noise now and senior leaders unlikely to want to alienate voters in both states, this contest is, in truth, far from over…

Ron Paul effectively concedes GOP nomination

Congressman Ron Paul has effectively conceded the Republican nomination to Senator John McCain in a YouTube video, which I’ve embedded with this post. His focus has primarily been on keeping his Congressional seat (TX-14), which he successfully defended in Republican primaries by a 40% margin.

While he has not yet explicitly stated his withdrawal from the Presidential race, the video seems to suggest he is conceding the nomination. He still asks that voters go out in the remaining contests to cast their ballots for him, however little sense this makes. He emphasises this is for his ‘revolution’, and not for him.

As both CNN and AP have called the race for Sen McCain, it is hard to see how Rep Paul will officially continue in the race much longer, and I suspect he will bow out by Mississippi next week.

Over on the Democrat side, while Sen Hillary Clinton won three of five contests on Tuesday (with Sen Obama taking Vermont while the Texas caucus returns are only at 40% and no winner has yet been projected or declared from that), Sen Obama retains the lead in delegates by about the same margin he had going into Tuesday. No change there, then, and some people are beginning to suggest the two should just agree to run on the same ticket to begin the general election campaigning, which is what Sen McCain is already doing…

If you’re a newscaster…

I know it’s funny. In fact, it’s hilarious. And I can’t stop laughing. But if you’re a newscaster it’s probably not the nicest thing to do on air.

(And for those of you who still want a politics fix with this post, well you’re in luck. AP reports Sen John McCain won the GOP American Samoa caucuses, according to local party officials. He also won the Northern Mariana Islands contests and will pick up 18 delegates in total from the two. Furthermore, CBS is reporting that Sen McCain has won the Puerto Rico caucuses and taken all 20 delegates from the island. However, this hasn’t yet been reflected in any major delegate count I’ve seen so far.)