Barack Obama made a campaign promise to visit the state of Alaska before the election. And what better time than right now to follow through on this promise? Obama should fly to Alaska the first chance his campaign schedule allows and make a speech at a rally with Mark Begich (and any other Democratic candidates for Alaskan office who care to join in). Begich is currently the Mayor of Anchorage, and is running to unseat the Republican Senator Ted Stevens. You may have heard Ted Stevens' name in the news recently. Which is why the time is now for Obama to make the trip.
This isn't the first time I've urged Senator Obama to go north to Alaska. Last month, I wrote:
Alaska, to the surprise of many pundits, is going to be very close this year. This stems from Republican officeholders apparently trying to take the "first in political corruption" award away from Louisiana. There are so many recent scandals involving Alaskan Republicans that it is almost impossible to keep track of them all. Bribery, corruption, graft -- apparently they were all par for the course for the GOP up north. Which is why Democrats even have a chance this year, because while most of these scandals didn't make the press down here in the "lower 48," they were splashed across the headlines in Alaska itself. And Alaskan voters have been paying attention.
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Once again, one of McCain's core issues is ethics in government. So how can McCain actively support two candidates who just may be under federal indictment soon? It's a quandary for McCain -- the GOP may lose a House and a Senate seat, so it's a "battleground" state in the race for control of Congress, but McCain would have to go against two key "moral high ground" issues he has staked out (ethics and earmarks) in order to help out the Republican incumbents. Which would be risky for McCain to even attempt.
So McCain would have to decide whether to risk the rest of the country noticing that he's supporting the king of earmarks, who is possibly ensnared in his own corruption -- or just letting Obama campaign up north unopposed, and hoping that the state will stay in the Republican column this year.
After I wrote that, I got a lot of emails from Alaskans who agreed. They pointed out the unprecedented Democratic caucus turnout, and the general excitement from Democratic voters. They strongly feel that this may be "their year" in Alaska. And they said that if Obama made the trip and allowed Alaskans to get to know him, he has a decent shot at taking the state in the presidential election. While Obama trails McCain by seven points in the most current poll, Mark Begich is up by six over Ted Stevens -- and this poll was taken before Stevens got indicted. So maybe Obama can ride Begich's coattails a bit.
Here is my humble suggestion for the speech Barack Obama should give in Alaska. Ideally, he should give this speech as an introduction to Mark Begich. Now, Begich is pro-drilling, so it's going to be a touchy issue, but if Obama puts it on the table correctly even people who don't agree with him may wind up at least respecting him. In any case, Obama appearing in support of Begich (instead of the other way around) would certainly endear him to some Alaskan voters.
Barack Obama's Introduction Speech For Mark Begich
Thank you, Alaskans, for the warm welcome. And thank you for your support in the Alaskan caucus this year, as well. I am honored to get a chance to speak to you today in support of Mayor Mark Begich for the United States Senate.
The man Mayor Begich is running against just got indicted in federal court for corruption charges while he is sitting as your state's senator. Alaska has seen more than its fair share of corruption these past few years from its Republican officeholders, so this news may not have been as shocking to you folks as it was to the rest of America. Alaskans already knew that the Republican Party up here has been in the pockets of Big Oil for a long, long time. Only now are we realizing, with all the indictments and court cases, just how far that corruption has spread.
Which is why I am willing to bet that you won't see John McCain visiting Alaska before the election in order to support Ted Stevens. Think about that -- the Republican nominee for president can't afford to be seen with your senior senator right now.
It's not because they disagree on the issues. I don't agree with Mayor Begich on every issue, and yet I fully support his bid for Senate. One of the biggest issues we disagree on is where, and how much, to drill for oil. I know that, up here, drilling for oil equals jobs. But I will be honest with you about my stance, even if I know you may disagree with me -- or not vote for me -- as a result. And I expect that as senator, Mark Begich will fight for what he believes is best for Alaska, and for Alaskans. I would expect no less -- that is the job of any senator.
But while you may disagree with me, at least you can believe me when I tell you what my position is. My opponent, on the other hand, flip-flopped on this issue just a couple of weeks ago. And now, from what I hear, he's running ads telling people that I singlehandedly raised gas prices. Wow. I didn't know I was that powerful! If I really was that powerful, I think I'd be using such enormous power to do better things than raising gas prices.
Now I do know that Alaskans benefit from high gas prices. But when you have to take that money and feed it right back to the oil companies to fill your tank up, who really is benefiting most? And you have to ask yourself, which political party benefits the most from the oil companies? I think you know the answer to that here in Alaska.
It's interesting that right after John McCain flip-flopped on his position, the oil companies have been pouring money into his campaign just as fast as they can. They've given him over a million dollars in just a few weeks, the last I checked. So which one of us do you think is going to fight to keep oil prices down in the future, instead of doing the bidding of the oil companies?
This isn't the only ad my opponent is running against me. There have been many of these attack ads in the past few weeks -- ever since his campaign got taken over by people trained by Karl Rove. It's the same old politics, run by the same old usual suspects. His latest ad ties me to Paris Hilton. [pause for laughter] I know, I was surprised, too! Paris Hilton? John McCain is going to fight for every last tax loophole for Paris Hilton -- and not only on the Bush tax cuts for the super-wealthy, but also to let her inherit every last billion without paying a dime of tax on it. That's what John McCain is for. The Paris Hiltons of the world, and their accountants. Not the average American.
But that's not even the worst ad out there. John McCain is running an ad right now that makes an ugly charge that the Washington Post says "lacks evidence." That's very polite language for saying it's a lie. John McCain is outright lying about me in this ad, and I strongly challenge him to take it down immediately and apologize to the wounded soldiers he is using as political pawns in his desperate effort to get elected.
You see, I took a trip overseas recently, and visited some wounded soldiers in Iraq. I had planned on visiting some more in Germany. I visit wounded soldiers often at Walter Reed. You might not know this, because I never allow the press to accompany me. Never. Because I never want such visits to be used politically. Now, because we had ended the portion of my recent trip which was an official trip, and had started the part that was paid for by my campaign, I didn't even want the appearance of injecting politics into a visit to our nation's wounded soldiers. When it was suggested to our campaign that it might appear political, we immediately cancelled the visit. And now John McCain, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, is implying that I cancelled this visit because the cameras wouldn't be allowed in. Let me say it in terms everyone can understand: this is false. It is a lie.
The image he used suggested I had enough time to visit a gym, but didn't want to visit the troops. If you look very carefully at this video, you can see that I was actually visiting troops in the gym. The Pentagon itself is the source of this video. This goes to show you that Karl Rove's tactics are alive and well in John McCain's campaign. He's taking me to task for not visiting soldiers because I was visiting with some other soldiers? It doesn't even make sense.
But John McCain put this ad out with this false accusation, and with his name on it. Apparently he will say absolutely anything to become president. Even though he gave his solemn word a few months ago to run a better campaign that that. He promised America that he wouldn't sink to the level of rumor and personal attacks on patriotism. He promised this to you, and then he broke that promise. His campaign said he would "reject the type of politics that degrade our civics" and furthermore that "overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from the big differences." They promised that "throughout his life John McCain has held himself to the highest standards and he will continue to run a respectful campaign based on the issues."
But once he hired a campaign team trained in the old-style politics of George Bush and Karl Rove, they broke that promise. You might say they threw it under the so-called "Straight Talk Express." Maybe it's about time to rename McCain's bus, since we haven't heard much "straight talk" from him recently.
I think we can do better than this. I refuse to campaign using such tactics, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will respond when my opponent launches such attacks on me. We've all seen what the smear machine can do against Democratic candidates, and I don't intend to let that happen this time around. When they try to question my patriotism, I will strongly defend myself.
I want to change the politics of Karl Rove and George Bush and John McCain. I want to get away from the corruption it breeds. I want to get to the point where the rest of the world admires America once again. I want to return to when America could trust its own Justice Department to be fair and impartial, and not merely the tool of one party or another. I have promised that I will review every Executive Order that George Bush has made, and immediately remove those that trample liberty. It will be a big job to root out the damage that Bush has done to the Executive Branch of our government, and to restore it to a position of respect -- but it's a job I am eager to begin!
I want to fight for average Americans in Washington. And I will fight for you against all the mudslinging and dirty campaigning they can throw. Because politics can be better than this. We need to return to politicians serving the people, instead of fat-cat lobbyists and corrupt businessmen openly buying their own candidates.
But I don't need to instruct Alaskans about Republican corruption. You folks have been hearing about it over and over again up here for years now, with each new indictment. There's a cure for such corruption. It's called "electing Democrats to office." Democrats like Mayor Begich, who I am sure will help me fight corruption in Washington next year. So without further ado, I am honored to introduce to you... your next United States Senator... Mark Begich!
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com