A pro-choice running mate for McCain?

Hopefully, members of Team McCain have rushed to remind John McCain that he needs to energize the Republican base to support him, not to oppose him.  In an interview with Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard yesterday, John McCain suggested that Republicans might not mind a pro-choice VP, as long as he suppported other portions of the social-conservative agenda.  He intended to draw a contrast between Tom Ridge and Michael Bloomberg, but the comment threatens to draw lines within the GOP instead:

John McCain said that he is open to choosing a pro-choice running mate and named former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as someone who merits serious consideration despite his support for abortion rights. McCain also criticized Barack Obama’s presidential campaign for attempts to “politicize” the debate over Georgia and criticized President Bush for failing to recognize the true nature of Vladimir Putin.

“I think that the pro-life position is one of the important aspects or fundamentals of the Republican Party,” McCain said. “And I also feel that–and I’m not trying to equivocate here–that Americans want us to work together. You know, Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don’t think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out.”

McCain’s comments came in response to a question about comments he made to several reporters during the Republican primary season. During that exchange, McCain was asked whether New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg would make a good running mate. McCain offered strong words of praise for Bloomberg but said that Bloomberg’s position on abortion–he is also pro-choice–would make it difficult to choose him as a vice presidential candidate. …

“I think it’s a fundamental tenet of our party to be pro-life but that does not mean we exclude people from our party that are pro-choice. We just have a–albeit strong–but just it’s a disagreement. And I think Ridge is a great example of that. Far moreso than Bloomberg, because Bloomberg is pro-gay rights, pro, you know, a number of other issues.”

McCain has this exactly backwards.  Abortion is the sine qua non of the social conservative agenda, not gay rights, for a simple reason: abortion kills human life.  In comparison, gay-rights issues stirs passions, but not the kind of line in the sand abortion represents.  Being tough on gays hardly represents a consolation prize to pro-life Republicans, many of whom think the gay issue is already overblown as it is.

Michelle notes the essential problem McCain creates with this odd formula:

Pro-open borders. Pro-global warming hysteria. Might as well go for the trifecta.

Either one believes human life begins at conception or not, and if so, then abortion is an abomination.  McCain has a good track record on this issue as it is, so he obviously believes that human life should not get terminated out of inconvenience.  Why, then, would he propose asking someone who doesn’t believe that to take a position which could put that person in charge of appointing judges to the bench if something tragic happened to McCain while in office?

It looks like a trial balloon to me, a way to show that McCain can get along with everyone in Washington and work across the aisle.  If so, let’s pop that balloon tout suite and quit alienating the base.