Surrogate Silliness
I wrote in a post yesterday of my surprise that McCain surrogate Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty had uttered some kind words for Barack Obama, when addressing a conservative audience Wednesday morning. Given the current level of negativity in the presidential campaign, I thought that perhaps voters would find this sort of bipartisan gesture to be a breath of fresh air from the potential Republican running mate. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that by the end of the day yesterday, Pawlenty was forced to call a brief press conference, in which he made clear that he did not intend to praise Obama, even if that is how his earlier remarks had been interpreted.
Pawlenty’s original comments on Obama were quite brief, and they by no means constituted an endorsement of McCain’s Democratic opponent. But once word spread among the media and political elites that a potential Republican vice presidential nominee had expressed a positive sentiment about the opponent, the rush was on to ask Pawlenty whether politically that was a smart thing for him to do. Not surprisingly, his speeches later in the day took on a much more negative tone toward Obama. The fact that this small episode caused such a stir yesterday gives one a pretty good sense of just how intense the partisan warfare is likely to be this fall.

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