Campaign Notebook

McCain lacks judgment, Kerry says

Raps colleague on Iraq war, taxes

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July 7, 2008

Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that John McCain doesn't have the judgment to be president.

If that is the case, then it's probably a good thing McCain rejected overtures from Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, to form a bipartisan ticket and run with Kerry as his candidate for vice president.

The Massachusetts senator, who supports Barack Obama, had no kind words for his Senate colleague yesterday, accusing McCain of poor decision-making on everything from backing tax cuts for the wealthy to making support for continuing the US military presence in Iraq the centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

"John McCain . . . has proven that he has been wrong about every judgment he's made about the war. Wrong about the Iraqis paying for the reconstruction, wrong about whether or not the oil would pay for it, wrong about Sunni and Shi'ite violence through the years, wrong about the willingness of the Iraqis to stand up for themselves," Kerry said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"If you like the Bush tax cut and what it's done to our economy, making wealthier people wealthier and the average middle-class struggle harder, then John McCain is going to give you a third term of George Bush and Karl Rove," Kerry added. Kerry later said the McCain of 2008 isn't the McCain he courted in 2004. "John McCain has changed in profound and fundamental ways that I find personally really surprising, and frankly upsetting."

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, a McCain adviser, said McCain was right to urge President Bush to send more US troops to Iraq to help control violence.

"We're winning because John McCain understood Iraq better than anybody else," Graham said. "The political, economic, and military progress in Iraq is undeniable."


More Clinton staffers to join Obama campaign staff
The shift of campaign staffers from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama is continuing.

Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's former campaign manager, started her job last week as chief of staff to Obama's yet-to-be-named vice presidential pick. And Neera Tanden, Clinton's policy chief, is joining the Obama campaign as the head of domestic policy.

Now the presumptive Democratic nominee hopes to snag John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former White House chief of staff and founding head of the Center for American Progress. According to several Obama sources, the campaign wants Podesta to run the transition operation if Obama wins in November.

Podesta kept a low profile during the primary season, although he was a staunch Clinton supporter. He is one of the most seasoned Democratic operatives in Washington. Before his White House years, he served as a staff counsel in the Senate, and one of his bosses was then-Senator Tom Daschle, now a key member of Obama's inner circle.

Other former Clinton advisers making the shift: Gene Sperling, former White House economic adviser; Stuart Eizenstat, trade specialist and former European Union ambassador; and Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state.


Christian leaders appear to coalesce behind McCain
Barack Obama got good reviews from some conservative quarters after his recent speech outlining a plan for building upon the faith-based initiative established by President Bush. But John McCain got better news from the right, signs of a real push by conservative Christian leaders to coalesce on his behalf.

Commenting on MSNBC, Patrick Buchanan said that although Obama wouldn't "win over the evangelicals," his embrace of the federal program that seeks to make it easier to funnel tax money to religious-based charities would "diminish some of the hostility" toward him among social conservatives.

David Brody, a correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, reported on his website that a major figure on the religious right has taken a huge step in support of McCain. Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values, not so long ago said of McCain: "We don't like him and he doesn't like us." But Burress has changed his view after a sit-down with McCain.

The evangelical leader sent out a note to allies that concluded: "I was once one of those people who said 'no way' to Senator John McCain as president. No longer. The stakes are too high."

Burress also was among about 100 conservative Christian leaders who met in Denver last week and agreed to unite behind McCain, Time magazine reported.


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