The Trail

By The Trail
Wednesday, August 27, 2008


McCain, Platform Unlikely to Align

Republicans began making the final changes to their party platform Tuesday in Minneapolis, hammering out a conservative document that leaves decisions about how to manage the war in Iraq up to the next president.

The 48-page document includes several points of disagreement with the nominee-to-be, John McCain, including on immigration, stem cell research and a constitutional amendment banning abortion and same-sex marriage.

While reporters pointed out that McCain differed with several elements of the platform, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and his fellow platform committee co-chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), suggested that the senator didn't need to sign off on every detail.

"This is the party platform," McCarthy said. "No one agrees with a hundred percent of what's in there. The vast majority of this platform John McCain agrees with."

Describing McCain's relationship to the platform, Burr asked rhetorically, "Is he bound to it? No, but it represents the overarching principles of what our party believes."

The platform also reflects certain priorities of McCain by highlighting issues such as the environment.

The current draft, which is half as long as the party's 2004 platform, doesn't get into the weeds as the previous one did, according to McCarthy. "We wanted it to be shorter, more principled, forward-looking," he told reporters during a conference call.

The draft document Republican delegates took up in a committee Tuesday includes a one-page section "addressing climate change responsibly." For the first time, the platform acknowledges that human activity has contributed to global warming: "The same human activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Increased atmospheric carbon has a warming effect on the earth."

But the document remains silent on the question of capping carbon emissions -- a policy McCain endorses -- and tamps down the idea of using broad government regulation to address the problem.

"Republicans caution against the doomsday climate change scenarios peddled by aficionados of centralized command-and-control government," the platform draft reads. "We can -- and should -- address global warming without succumbing to the no-growth radicalism that treats climate questions as dogma rather than as situations to be managed responsibly."

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, whose group has endorsed McCain's rival, Barack Obama, said the platform language suggests McCain would follow in the footsteps of President Bush on climate change.

"This sounds like more of the Bush White House plan: acknowledge the problem as real, but propose no serious solutions to deal with it," Karpinski said in a phone interview from Denver, where he was attending the Democratic National Convention.

-- Juliet Eilperin


Pa. Governor Offers A Slice of Advice

DENVER -- Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell captured the jitters of the Democratic Party on Tuesday when he conceded that for all of Barack Obama's gifts, "he's not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with" and urged the presumptive nominee to start punching back against Republican attacks.

In a wide-ranging interview, Rendell insisted that while Obama still has not won over perhaps 30 percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries, he will have locked down 95 percent of them after Clinton's address to the convention. But Rendell, a strong Clinton supporter during the primaries, made it clear he thinks Obama still has work to do with the white, working-class voters who backed her.

"With people who have a lot of gifts, it's hard for people to identify with them," Rendell said. "Barack Obama is handsome. He's incredibly bright. He's incredibly well-spoken, and he's incredibly successful -- not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with."

For a politician cut from a rougher cloth, Rendell may have offered a backhanded compliment when he compared Obama to Adlai Stevenson, the failed Democratic candidate from the 1950s who captured the imagination of American intellectuals but not the electorate at large.

"He is a little like Adlai Stevenson," Rendell mused. "You ask him a question, and he gives you a six-minute answer. And the six-minute answer is smart as all get-out. It's intellectual. It's well-framed. It takes care of all the contingencies. But it's a lousy sound bite.

"We've got to start smacking back in short, understandable bites," he said, noting, "Everybody is nervous as all get-out. Everybody says we ought to be ahead by 10, 15 points. What the heck is going on?"

For all that worry, Rendell's prognosis for Obama is good, at least in his crucial state. The addition of Scranton-born Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the Democratic ticket probably pads Obama's thin lead by two percentage points, Rendell said, and the economy will ultimately persuade people to look beyond personality, background and race to focus on policy.

Rendell said Obama needs to make his economic proposals more understandable, and to show real anger, especially about issues such as the United States financing Iraq's reconstruction while the Iraqi government holds an oil-fueled government surplus.

"What I think most people are waiting for -- and as soon as they see it, I think it's over -- they're waiting to see that he's angry about that stuff, too. Not just that he thinks it's wrong intellectually -- that he's angry," Rendell said.

In the end, though, "When times are hard, people care about one thing, one color -- green," he said. "That's all there is."

-- Jonathan Weisman


McCain Fundraiser Draws Celebrities

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- John McCain may continue to attack Barack Obama as a celebrity, but that doesn't mean that McCain is above associating with the stars.

At a fundraiser in the heart of Hollywood on Monday night, McCain rubbed elbows with a chorus of television and movie stars while raising some cash in the final days before the Republican National Convention. About 1,600 people crammed into a ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hilton, the campaign said.

Earlier, Patricia Heaton, star of "Everybody Loves Raymond," joined McCain on a flight from Sacramento to Burbank. They exited the plane together and posed for pictures.

And in the morning, recording artist Daddy Yankee, one of the biggest stars in the Latino community, endorsed McCain in front of a gaggle of screaming teenagers, then joined him on the plane.

Before the fundraiser, McCain taped an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Here's a list of celebs spotted at the fundraiser:

· Gary Sinise ("Forrest Gump," "CSI: NY").

· Dean Cain ("Lois and Clark").

· Jon Voight (actor and Angelina Jolie's estranged father).

· Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men").

· Angie Harmon ("Women's Murder Club") and Jason Sehorn (former cornerback of the New York Giants).

· Craig T. Nelson ("Coach" and four episodes of "My Name is Earl").

· George Newburn ("Father of the Bride").

· Lorenzo Lamas ("The Bold and the Beautiful").

-- Michael D. Shear

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