Bill Steigerwald

Catching up with author and syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan during this election season is almost impossible. Up at 5 a.m. weekdays and still up many nights at midnight, commuting multiple times to Washington and sometimes to New York City, he’s always on the move -- and yet he’s a near-permanent presence on MSNBC, where he has become the house conservative in a den of liberals.

I caught up with Washington’s consistently jovial pundit by telephone from his Northern Virginia home on Thursday, Oct. 9.

Q: Do you think it’s over for John McCain because of this economic meltdown that seems to know no floor?

A: I just sent out a column that said I don’t think it’s over. McCain and (Sarah) Palin were winning this election for two weeks after the Republican convention. Since then we’ve had the worst market crash worldwide since 1929-1930 and we’ve had it in a telescoped four-week period. That has taken McCain from 2 points, or 3 points or 4 points up to around 8 or 10 behind in some polls, 11 in one tracking poll and an average of 6.

Is it over? No. I think McCain can still do it. But what he has to do is find a way to make Barack Obama no longer credible as an individual who can be president of the United States in a time of war and economic catastrophe. He has got to impeach his ideas, his record, his agenda and his judgment.

Q: Do you think these polls are accurately gauging support for Obama or do you think there is a "Bradley Effect" hidden in there?

A: I do believe that if the race turned out to be 48-48 with 4 undecided on Election Day, McCain would win. Look: People voting on the issue of race have already made up their minds. African Americans, I saw one poll, are 94-1 behind him. Of white Americans, there’s a minority who are going to vote for him because he’s African American and a small number who are going to vote against him for that reason.

Now is there a hidden factor in there? I don’t know. I don’t know the reason why, but Obama does not do well when he is closing. Hillary Clinton, as you know, beat him by 10 or 9 percent in Pennsylvania and about the same amount in Ohio and then by 41 in West Virginia and 35 in Kentucky. I think part of that is the Scots-Irish and those folks out there who don’t cotton to Obama not simply because of reasons of race, but class. He really is not one of them. I think Colin Powell would do far better, for example.

Q: You have roots of sorts out this way. Your mom was from the Mon Valley, right?

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..