Campaign '08

What McCain didn’t say: flip-flop or gotcha moment?

On Thursday John McCain gave a speech in Ormond Beach, Florida, that included many of the themes the candidate has repeated countless times now on the campaign trail, such as a one-year budget freeze. However, the Barack Obama campaign seized upon one part of that speech, notably what McCain didn’t say:

Days after attempting to clarify his ever-changing position on space funding, John McCain returned to the region this morning and reinstituted his call for a spending freeze – without an exception for NASA. Speaking in Ormond Beach, McCain promised to freeze spending on “all but the most important programs like defense, veterans care, social security and health care,” pledging to “veto every single pork barrel earmark.”

Notably absent was any exception for space funding, muddying a position McCain tried to clear up last week.

“It seems Senator McCain isn’t committed to exempting NASA from his proposed spending freeze. After talking about space for all of 53 seconds in Melbourne last week, now he’s returned to the area and neglected to mention space at all, going so far as to reinstitute his spending freeze pledge without a NASA exception. It’s no wonder Florida Today has called McCain ‘downright schizophrenic’ about space,” said Obama’s Florida Policy Director Ian Bassin. “Barack Obama has pledged an additional $2 billion to reduce the spaceflight gap and save Florida jobs and was recently praised for his ‘leadership’ on space issues by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. That’s the change Florida’s Space Coast needs.”

So did the McCain campaign really go back on its pledge just last week to provide $2 billion more for NASA? One can argue that McCain was not trying to provide a complete list of “important programs” that would be exempt from the freeze, and just listed the highest-profile ones. However, while Ormond Beach is not usually considered part of the “Space Coast” region of Florida, it’s close enough—just north of Daytona Beach—that the McCain campaign could have avoided any controversy and negative publicity by simply adding “and NASA” to that list, if in fact the candidate is still committed to that budget increase.

14 comments to What McCain didn’t say: flip-flop or gotcha moment?

  • Chuck2200

    “So did the McCain campaign really go back on its pledge just last week to provide $2 billion more for NASA?”

    Even though I’m an Obama supporter (finally made a choice), I suspect that the answer to the question is “No; he did not go back on his pledge”. I say this for 2 reasons:

    1. John has a well established pattern of tayloring his message to the specific audience he’s addressing.

    2. While physically close to the “Space Coast”, this was not a Space Coast audience and therefore the $2 billion dollar pledge would have fallen on deaf ears. It “might” even have had a negative affect on the listeners. Believe it or not, not everyone in Florida actually supports NASA at this time.

    John had nothing to gain by repeating the pledge, and possibly some support to loose if he did. I believe he just left well enough alone. If elected, I think he’ll keep his pledge. In spite of the ugly rhetoric coming from his campaign, John himself is basically an honorable man accustomed to keeping his word.

  • Aremis Asling

    Yeah, that’s ultimately one of my issues with McCain. I really do like him as a legislator. I voted for him in the priamries in 2000, in fact. That’s the only time I’ve ever voted for a republican. And had he gotten the nomination and stuck to his principles, I’d have voted for him over Gore. But what he’s done so far this campaign seems disquietingly similar to the tactics that got Bush in. He’s lost some serious points with me for going back on pretty a lot of the stances he’s taken over the years. I still think he’s a good man, after all he stuck his neck out to correct folks on some of the false claims being tossed about against Obama, but his campaign seems to be for an entirely different person that the one I voted for in ’00.

  • Charles In Houston

    Disclaimer – I am a big supporter of moderates including John McCain and Nick Lampson.

    That being said, the Florida Obama campaign is deliberately mis-interpreting what Sen McCain said, to try to salvage Florida for Obama.

    Both candidates are unfortunately in the “promise them whatever” phase of the campaign. However, John McCain has a long track record of working in a bilateral manner to keep our government running. Barack does NOT.

    John McCain has a long track record of publicly criticizing religious intolerance, enough that Liberty University has moderated some of their statements! Some right wing religious leaders have declined to endorse John McCain, so it has cost him (especially in Colorado).

    Barack Obama has a long track record of sitting in a pew, hearing anti-American ranting – all the while smiling and nodding his head. And you cannot tell me that Rev J Wright never went into his “I Hate America” mode while Barack was there. Barack just never objected.

    The Obama campaign has promised an additional couple of billion – knowing that they could only deliver if they greatly increase taxes. I hope we will not have to find out if they will keep their word on this promise.

  • Disclaimer – I am a big supporter of moderates including John McCain and Nick Lampson

    LOL. That’s funny.

  • Shubber,

    While there are many times I disagree with you, this is one times when I sit in total agreement.

    The words moderate and John McCain do not go together.

  • Al Fansome

    FERRIS: The words moderate and John McCain do not go together.

    They used to go together, and on a few select issues (e.g., immigration) they still do. Which is why the Republican base does not trust him. Which is why he has bent over backwards to please the base. Which is why he chose Palin.

    Which is why moderates no longer trust him.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • michelle

    first let me state I am not a McCain supporter, but I was on the fence until just weeks ago.

    But I’m tired of this issue. McCain has said more than once he considers america’s lead in space a vita part of the United States defense strategy. Period. Is that not clear enough.

    That said, there are a lot more social issues I wish McCain would clarify his position on.. And some issues such as Prop 8 that he’s just lost in space on.

  • Jack Burton

    McCain meant what he said.
    The man contributed to the legislation for moon/mars that later became VSE years ago.
    He knows it’s important and this whole thing has been massively silly game played by the Obama supportors.

    STOP already.

    It should trouble people far far more that Obama changed his stance 180 degrees only a few months ago.

  • “He knows it’s important and this whole thing has been massively silly game played by the Obama supportors.”

    Not so, sir. Take a look at the side-by-side comparison of the two candidates’ space policies (www.obamanauts.org). Obama’s is broad and specific. McCain’s is “glittering generalities”.

  • Ellegood – you should know that there is a core group of right wingers who stick their proverbial fingers in their ears and go “na na na communism/socialism pals around with terrorists na na na” whenever faced with an objective argument.

    They’re a lost cause.

    Thankfully, at this rate, so is their candidate.

    Given the much more important issues in my book than the space program facing our country right now, I most certainly am NOT casting my vote based on who is supporting which BS space program of the week that’s being floated around out there. IMHO, manned space is dead for the foreseeable future after shuttle is retired.
    -Shubber

    (I supported the John McCain who ran in 2000 and lost, not the sad caricature he’s become…)

  • Mr. Joe Kerr

    Yeah, when it comes to flip-flopping on space issues, Obama would recognize such endeavors. In fact, he bought the t-shirt and ironed that puppy. Misrepresentation and passing off what the crowds want to hear is his middle name.

  • Yeah, when it comes to flip-flopping on space issues, Obama would recognize such endeavors. In fact, he bought the t-shirt and ironed that puppy. Misrepresentation and passing off what the crowds want to hear is his middle name.

    Certified Fact-Free Commentary!

  • [...] last week when McCain was criticized by Democrats for not mentioning NASA in his list of programs that would be exempt from a budget freeze, less than a week after vowing to [...]

  • Mr. Joe Kerr

    “Certified Fact-Free Commentary!”

    Obama’s original plan was to DELAY Constellation by 5 years, I’d call that a flip-flop. Welcome to reality Mr. Ali.

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