Barack Obama is
campaigning overseas today.
While there are 7 million Americans living abroad, all of whom can vote by absentee ballot if they are over 18,
they are not who he is aiming at right now.
The idea, of course, is to make Obama appear presidential, concerned about the troops, and knowledgeable about what is
going on in the war zones. Subsequent stops will be the Middle East and Europe.
It is all theater, as so much of modern politics is.
In Obama's case, it is a high-stakes gamble. If he can pull it off, he may be able to convince voters who
worry about his national security credentials that he is up to the job, in which case McCain loses his only
remaining trump card. However, the entire world is watching him on this trip and any misstep will be magnified
beyond all belief and could sink him. He needs perfect pitch this week.
Political scientist Alan Abramowitz has looked at the polling data and
that Barack Obama is
not going to win a majority of white voters. But he also notes that neither did John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill
Clinton, or Jimmy Carter. In fact, the last Democrat to win a majority of the white voters was Lyndon Johnson
in 1964. But with white voters making up 80% of the electorate and Obama running only 9% behind John McCain in
this group (better than Gore), he can still win the presidency decisively if he wins 95% of the black vote and 2/3 of the
Latino vote, which polls indicate he can do.
Vice Presidential speculation is still going strong. The NY Times has
today. It is the usual cast of characters. For the Democrats, Joe Biden, Sam Nunn, Tim Kaine, Kathleen Sebelius,
et al. For the Republicans, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty et al. But candidates have a
funny way of surprising everyone with their picks. For John McCain, Mitt Romney actually makes a fair amount of
sense and has been getting the most buzz of late. Trouble is, McCain doesn't like him. But John Kennedy didn't
like Lyndon Johnson either.
All campaigns make heavy use of surrogates: people who informally speak for the campaign until they
say something stupid and get thrown under the bus (see: Gramm, former Sen. Phil).
Politico has a
round-up of some of them.
They appear on cable news networks endlessly hawking their candidate.
Some of Obama's are Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), and former national security advisor
McCain's include Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and former E-Bay CEO