March 28, 2008

Slapstick Politics Exclusive: John McCain Press Conference In Denver

“We have united our party. We are now going to have to reenergize our party, and energize them for a very, very tough race this November”--Sen. John McCain

Updated and bumped . . . scroll for analysis . . .

Sen. John McCain, flanked by former Congressman Bob Beauprez, Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Sen. Wayne Allard

Exclusive to the blogosphere, at least. Your humble Slapstick Politics was invited to cover the John McCain press conference today as part of the RNC's eCampaign Division outreach. Having new media incorporated into the campaign represents quite a leap forward, at least for the GOP.

Also there, Jeremy Pelzer of, a bookmark-worthy independent online source of political news in Colorado.

The entire press conference, unedited:

Part 1:

Part 2:

If YouTube is acting up, the video is available at Sevenload:

One of the questions from the conference will continue to follow McCain throughout the election--how can he mend fences with the conservative base who isn't particularly enthralled with their presumptive nominee, and appeal to Republicans in the Rocky Mountain West who overwhelmingly selected Romney over McCain in the primaries? And what about that old Reagan coalition--is it dead?

McCain knows that his strength--if it can be called that--lies in his projection of the "maverick" theme he has so carefully cultivated, while making sure that he also projects some semblance of acknowledgement of the concerns within his party over areas where McCain is believed to have strayed. The new term "McCain-ocrats" has been put forth as the new column of supporters, coming primarily from the Democratic ranks fed up with their destructive Clinton-Obama primary, as well as center-left leaning independents who might not usually even give the GOP candidate a look, but will now since the nominee is McCain.

With Colorado's rapidly increasing unaffiliated voting bloc soon to surpass the state's registered GOP voters, McCain's nomination could put more of that segment in play--or at the very least stem the tide of tilting Democratic that has delivered almost every recent state and federal level election in Colorado to the Democrats. Democrats need the help of independents to beat their GOP counterparts who enjoy a large voter lead, and anything that prevents a landslide split (60-40 for Democrats and higher) will at least ease those concerns.

Romney did win Colorado's GOP caucus, but the caucus itself was open to registered Republicans only. Had center-right independents, libertarians and conservative Democrats been allowed to vote, it is not clear that Romney would have received comparable results (and given McCain's 1st amendment issues with campaign finance reform, this might not have helped with some of these voters). Now, however, the nomination is settled and Republicans and conservatives alike are rallying to the GOP nominee's side, as they were at this press conference and subsequent fundraiser. Just a little over a month ago, Bob Beauprez and Sen. Wayne Allard were behind Romney during a campaign stop, arguing that he was the best candidate for Colorado and the party. This is politics, however, and as soon as the Democrats finally settle on their choice for the White House, there too will be calls for "bridging gaps" and "coming together."

So when the Democrats and the left target Senate candidate Bob Schaffer for comments he made about Sen. McCain last year that appear critical, ask them how they will handle their party's own squabbles, name-calling, and vitriol. If Schaffer can't offer his opinion and then change/modify/alter it, then it will be tough (even for Democrats) to see either Obama or Clinton offering their support for each other, once the nomination is decided. And the attacks we've seen between those two this primary season make any tension between Schaffer and McCain pale in comparison.

As for uniting the conservatives--social and fiscal conservatives and their center-right, libertarian allies--McCain has a tall order ahead. He does enjoy the benefits of receiving the nomination early, and the ability to make policy, introduce legislation, and continue (at least) a non-offense campaign that might make some of the early defectors at least open to looking at him again. He can also help himself with a strong conservative VP choice, and many have speculated that the duo seen here, McCain and Romney, might be the eventual GOP ticket. The disadvantage to a long road to November is the possibility of committing a serious gaffe or proposed policy choice that just confirms voters' suspicions about where McCain's true loyalties lie.

Bottom line, McCain is the nominee. Once voters outside of the Dems really pay attention to either Clinton or Obama, they may just be scared enough by their socialist/liberal/progressive agendas to give the senator a second look. Just look at McCain's favorability rating versus either Clinton or Obama. His favorability has been increasing, and is now holding steady in the mid-50s.

Exit question: with the Democrats so deeply embroiled in and embittered by the Clinton/Obama struggle, and McCain up on both candidates in some polls already, will the Dems be even more inclined to lash out come this fall, or watch helplessly as a small percentage of their faithful defect to McCain and potentially give him victory? In the battleground states, these margins may prove the critical difference in the electoral vote count in November.

More from the press conference:

An empty podium awaits the candidate's arrival

The MSM sets up their equipment

From PolitickerCO:
Two 2008 Republican presidential winners arrived in Denver Thursday: John McCain, the presumptive nominee, and Mitt Romney, the overwhelming Colorado caucus winner.

Their goal: to rally Republicans behind McCain in a state where he won only 19 percent of caucusgoers and most major GOP leaders backed Romney or Rudy Giuliani.

“We have united our party,” McCain proclaimed at an afternoon press conference in the Comfort Inn in downtown Denver. “We are now going to have to reenergize our party, and energize them for a very, very tough race this November.”

Asked how he would win over Romney voters in Colorado to his side, McCain motioned towards Romney and said, “I think that he can do a much better job convincing them than I can.”

Romney made it clear how he wanted Coloradans to vote in November.

“I support (McCain) enthusiastically, endorse his campaign and hope that my friends here in Colorado are just as active in supporting him as they’ve been in supporting other great candidates in the past to make sure that we have the kind of leadership America needs at a trying time,” Romney said. “It’s so critical for us not to be talking about politics as we’re watching the Democrats do and process, but instead to be focusing on the direction of this great land.”
Local MSM coverage--
The Rocky Mountain News featured Colorado Democrats on the attack:
Sen. John McCain arrived in Denver this afternoon to make a few remarks and pick up some campaign cash as a part of his swing through the Western states that have become increasingly attractive targets for Democrats.

But before he could utter one word at the Brown Palace Hotel, Democrats launched a pre-emptive strike — getting state party chairs from Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado to blast the presumed Republican presidential nominee during a conference call.

Leading the charge was Colorado Democratic Chairwoman, Pat Waak — with a little bit of swagger.

“We think John McCain is the best candidate we could be running against as Democrats,” she said.

She cited his campaign cash shortage, his getting trounced by fellow Republican Mitt Romney in Colorado’s GOP caucus by a two-to-one margin and that Democrats have registered far more voters than Republicans in the last year.
The Denver Post had a note on the protestors at McCain's fundraiser following the press conference:
About 20 protesters appeared outside the DAC Thursday afternoon to protest McCain's appearance.

They chanted "stop foreclosures" and "McSame as Bush" and "McShame" as the candidate walked through the small throng and entered the front door of the club.
You can watch a video of the protestors outside the Denver Athletic Club.

9NEWS has a short video report at 5pm and a longer follow-up at 10pm (video), and Channel 7 has the story as Romney and McCain traveled from Salt Lake City.

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