Sen. John McCain's campaign has worked hard to burnish his "maverick" credentials, with attempts to distance the candidate from unpopular Bush administration policies having been the preferred strategy thus far. However, a new tack seems to be emerging: Calling on surrogates who have disagreed with the Arizona Republican on important issues -- and, in the latest instance, sided with Sen. Barack Obama -- to make the case for McCain's superior judgment.
Last Friday, McCain's aides asked a Florida House member who had opposed him on a water resources bill to step forward and speak on McCain's behalf.
On a Monday conference call for reporters, McCain tapped North Carolina Senator Richard Burr to lend a hand in pushing back against Obama's economic address in that state. In doing so, Burr decried the fact that, "if [the American people] focus on the campaign rhetoric, they're gong to find great inconsistencies." The first inconsistency people might find, however, is that Burr voted with Obama and against McCain on a bill the GOP nominee claims is of great importance in this campaign: the 2005 energy bill.
On the very same call, McCain economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin hit Obama for his support of that legislation. The other voice on the line, however, was understandably silent.
In July 2005, Sen. Burr's office released the following press release upon passage of the energy bill:
"This legislation represents a comprehensive, balanced plan to reduce our dependency on foreign sources of oil while increasing our commitment to renewable energy and conservation efforts," said Senator Burr. "North Carolina will benefit from provisions to modernize our electricity grid and create jobs while ensuring a more stable and environment friendly energy supply."
But if Sen. Burr concluded in 2005 that the energy bill would prove such a boon to the economy, why exactly does he now believe John McCain is the most reliable steward of that issue? Burr may have unintentionally revealed the answer to that question during another one of his attacks on Obama this afternoon.
"It's gotten to be acceptable this year to make claims, and not to back those up with facts," he complained.
In other words, during silly season, anything goes.