Team McCain Conference Call: Foreign Policy

Two conference calls in one day!  I feel like I’m back in the corporate sector, and not necessarily in a good way …

Team McCain hosted Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to talk about Barack Obama’s foreign policy.  Michael Goldfarb, the official blogger at the campaign at The McCain Report, moderated the call.   With Obama preparing to depart on his fact-finding mission, the McCain campaign would undoubtedly like to frame Obama’s policy as of now as a baseline to see what changes and what doesn’t after he and his media groupies return.

Rep. Blackburn began by reviewing the military commitment from Tennessee to the war zones.  Her advice on these issues come from the soldiers in these areas, “soldiers for whom Obama voted to deny funding”.  They want to win the fight and build stability for the Iraqi government.  The worst thing we could do is to take the pressure off now.  Obama is acting in his political interest, not in the interest of the nation.  He needs to meet with the commanders and with the troops, who will tell him that he needs to change his approach.  Blackburn said that if he wasn’t prepared to listen, then he shouldn’t use these troops in his photo ops in Iraq.

Goldfarb emphasized Obama’s sticking to his withdrawal plan regardless of changes in circumstances, and his op-ed coming out before he even consulted with the commanders in Iraq.  Goldfarb noted his bad calculation on the surge, and said he should have spoken with General Petraeus before determining the best course forward.  “Given his changing positions in the past,” there’s hope he will come up with a more reasonable position afterwards.

  • Commentary Magazine: Both campaigns commented on the exchange between Israel and Hezbollah — why didn’t Obama make mention of Hezbollah’s conduct, and why does Obama insist that there is no connection between Iraq and Afghanistan in beating the terrorists? — Nothing much to add on the first; Petraeus says Iraq is a central front in the war on terror.  All you have to do is look at a map to understand the centrality of Iraq in the region.  ABC confirmed that Obama’s withdrawal plan was unworkable and “dangerous”.  “Obama has been distracted from Afghanistan by running for office.”
  • Flapsblog – Will the latest ad be going on broadcast television?  Not in its current form  It’s a web ad.  Will they run contrast ads during Obama’s trip?  Yes; Obama set the precedent for that during the Colombia trip.
  • Me: What about Bush’s sending a diplomat to listen to the current Iran negotiations – did Bush move towards Obama?  The only way Bush could have moved towards Obama’s position is if he invited Ahmadinejad to a barbecue.  Europe wants the precondition of ending enrichment to be retained, and McCain is comfortable with the Bush policy.  Obama wants to drop all preconditions and engage in direct, bilateral negotiations, which Europe strongly opposes.
  • Talking Points Memo: Do you (Blackburn) mean that Obama shouldn’t meet the troops if he won’t change his mind?  “That’s a stretch, isn’t it?”  She wants him to have an open mind, not look for slender reeds to declare agreement with his position.  She wants Obama to listen and learn.
  • Townhall: Is the media attention for Obama’s trip fair or does it demonstrate bias?  Goldfarb thinks there is a compelling story, given that Obama has no experience on foreign policy.  “That’s just the way it is”; McCain is much more of a known quantity with an established track record of leadership.
  • Any expectations from Obama’s trip? — Blackburn: No expectations, and unsure what Obama hopes to accomplish, other than great optics for the campaign.  She hopes that the media reports fairly on Obama’s positions and the facts on the ground.