McCain to air ad tonight directly addressing Obama; Update: Social cons threaten war over pro-choice pick

Between this and Drudge’s teaser about possibly leaking the VP pick, they’re clearly very nervous about letting this speech go off without the GOP getting a word in edgewise.

I can’t imagine what he’d have to say “to” Obama unless it’s a challenge for more townhall debates.

Tonight, John McCain will talk directly to his opponent in a television ad his campaign is airing in battleground states, around the time Barack Obama accepts the presidential nomination, McCain’s campaign said…

McCain campaign communications director Jill Hazelbaker said in an MSNBC appearance that the battleground spot is “an historic ad — I think this is the first of its kind.”

“Sen. McCain is going to have an ad that’s going to air in battleground states around the time that Sen. Obama is speaking tonight,” Hazelbaker said. “He’s going to be talking directly to his opponent. So, I’m going to leave it there. But it’s going be very exciting. I think that a lot of people are going to focus on it.”

As is true of all things McCain, the boss is underwhelmed. I remember reading somewhere that back in 2000 McCain had floated the idea of campaigning across the country with Bob Kerrey if each of them won his respective party’s nomination. Is that what this is? A Lincoln-Douglas challenge for the last eight weeks of the race? It has to be some sort of offer; if it’s just an attack ad delivered by Maverick, the nastiness and pettiness of it as a contrast to Hopenchange’s big moment will be a disaster. Serious exit question: What could Obama say or do to have tonight’s speech be judged a disappointment? Picture tomorrow’s headline: “History Made as Major Party Crowns First Black Nominee on Anniversary of ‘I Have a Dream’; Acceptance Speech a Total Buzzkill.” Is there any conceivable way that happens? Drudge has that dopey photo of him up striking his JFK pose as if he has some Herculean task before him and can’t possibly meet expectations, but it’s more the case that he can’t not meet them. Unless he goes up there and drones on, Clintonesquely, about a laundry list of policy proposals — which isn’t a hallmark of Obama’s speeches, needless to say, and isn’t the sort of thing you rebuild the temple of Zeus for — he’s guaranteed ecstatic media coverage through the weekend. In fact, I think the only way the GOP gets any mileage out of this is if he has a “Worship me” moment and says something like, “I am The One.” And after all, why would he need to say it? That’s what the Barackopolis is for.

Update: One other point. If they’re thinking about leaking the VP to steal Obama’s hype, doesn’t that guarantee that it’s a woman? Breaking news about Tim Pawlenty isn’t going to start a media stampede away from Invesco. Breaking news about the first female on a major party ticket since Geraldine Ferraro stands a better shot, especially since it keys in on the night’s theme of Change.

Actually, here’s a horrible thought for you. What if McCain’s ad is his VP announcement? In the form of a challenge: “Senator Obama, you claim to represent a new, post-partisan approach to doing business in Washington. But as usual, while you talk the talk, I walk the walk.” And then the camera pulls back — “Meet my running mate, Joe Lieberman.” Heart-ache.

Update: You know, that last update makes enough sense to me that I think I’m going to offer it as a prediction. His camp wouldn’t be hyping it as hard as they are unless it’s really big news, and it coincides with Drudge’s report about “some sort of confirmation” of the VP pick by 8 p.m. Good lord.

Update: I’d love to be wrong…

Update: A different kind of prediction about McCain’s ad via e-mail from a reader: “A congratulations to Obama, noting that regardless of how one feels about The One’s ability to lead, even if he had been the best candidate ever he wouldn’t have had a shot not too long ago, and that America can progress.”

Update: Roll Call reports a Secret Service sweep at … Mitt Romney’s sister’s house? Mitt Romney’s sister for VP!

Update: And to think, we all expected the Democratic convention to be the one in turmoil. One last eleventh-hour warning to Maverick: Don’t do it.

With John McCain weighing a running mate who supports abortion rights, a revolt is brewing among his conservative base that includes a walkout at the Republican National Convention next week and a huge battle on the floor—especially if he selects Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman.

In addition to the expected brawl at the convention, major conservative donors who have planned to bankroll issue-oriented advertising and other grassroots efforts directed at social conservatives are putting their work on hold and will withdraw financial support, sources tell ABC News.

One conservative strategist characterized the prospect of a VP who supports abortion rights as a “disaster” for the Republican Party—and said selecting Lieberman would cost McCain the election…

One possible strategy is a revolt by some of the 18 state delegations who supported either Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee—and who have not yet turned over to McCain.

Those delegations could—and sources say, likely would–revolt against Leiberman and put in their own recommendation. In the nomination process, a candidate needs five delegations supporting the nomination.