House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel teased Sen. John McCain on a Friday conference call with reporters, saying the notion that the presumptive GOP nominee represents "Bush's third term" has clearly become a burr under McCain's saddle due to its essential truth.
Pivoting off today's news of McCain's apparent flip-flop on President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, Emanuel painted a portrait of near-constant agreement between McCain and the president on the Iraq war, the economy, heath care and government spending.
Referring to the Arizona Republican's widely panned Tuesday night address in New Orleans, Emanuel said: "When I was watching that speech, I was reminded of what Shakespeare said, 'Thou protest too much.' When he sits there and says, 'I am not George Bush and I wish you'd stop saying these falsehoods,' it's clearly hit a nerve because of the [truth of it]. ... And I think with core constituencies [of women, Hispanics, and working class voters] that are going to matter...when you look at the electoral map, he is not where George Bush was in 2004. He has a much higher negative rating with those constituencies and is well on his way on performing where Republicans performed in 2006."
Developing his analogy between the coming election and the thumpin' Democrats delivered to Republicans in 2006, Emanuel said the midterms amounted to "picking the lock" of an electoral map engineered by a GOP-controlled Congress, while Obama has the potential to "change the combination" of that lock altogether this November.
That would seem a bold analysis on the surface, given the conventional wisdom that Obama's support among traditional Democratic constituencies is weak. But later on the conference call, hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, pollster Stan Greenberg provided evidence of Obama's potential to improve among critical Democratic groups -- citing a recent Democracy Corps poll that shows McCain's approval rating has dropped below the 50 percent mark in the last month among white union households, white unmarried women and older white, non-college men.
Greenberg went on to describe as "fantasy" the idea that Obama's occasionally underwhelming support among these groups during the primaries could be projected onto the general election race with McCain. As The Huffington Post reported Thursday, Obama is already doing better among Hispanic voters than Sen. John Kerry did in 2004. "And we've just now reached the point of consolidation [after the primaries]," Greenberg said. "I have no doubt that those things will move up as we go."