McCain Camp Shuts Down VP Questions

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Aug 20, 2008 3:35 PM
This afternoon, I participated in a call with former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani and McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann.  The purpose was to discuss reports that an Obama campaign Middle East adviser was recently in Damascus for meetings with Syrian officials. 

After Rudy's opening statement about Obama negotiating without pre-conditions -- and being inexperienced -- the Q&A session began.  Obviously, everybody is interested in the VP story right now, so it's not surprising that after Giuliani and Scheunemann's opening statements -- and the first question -- talk eventually turned to VP speculation.

Kelly O'Donnell of NBC asked Giuliani about the prospects of a pro-choice VP.  Giuliani said McCain would have to "weigh the pros and the cons," and that the Republican Party is not "a one issue party."  He said he believed the Republican Party would support McCain's choice, regardless.  And he said McCain's main criteria would be selecting someone who could take over the job of president of the United States at a moment's notice.

I was the next questioner, and based on Giuliani's answer to Kelly's question, I noted yesterday's Fox story which said reported the RNC had announced McCain would no longer consider a pro-choice candidate.  After all, Giuliani's response made me wonder if McCain was, in fact, still open to a pro-choice veep ...

Michael Goldfarb, who earlier this year shed his journalist hat in favor of a McCain hat, abruptly cut me off, saying:  "Frankly, we're not talking about Senator McCain's VP choice until he makes a VP choice."  (This, of course, is provably false, as Giuliani had just answered a VP question from Kelly).  Nevertheless,  I attempted to follow-up by asking whether or not the Fox story was even true to begin with (because Rudy was acting as if McCain still might choose Ridge or Lieberman).  I'm not sure if I was cut off before or after I got that out, but they quickly moved on.  I believe they took one more call and then abruptly ended the call.

(You can listen to the call here  at the 14.09 minute mark.  Upon listening to the recording, it is clear I was cut-off before I had the chance to ask my follow-up question ...).

In any event, I was surprised at how aggressive the McCain folks were in regards to not commenting on the VP question.  My guess is that they want to avoid any appearance that conservatives were able to influence McCain's VP pick.  Clearly, this is a touchy subject that they would prefer not to talk about right now ...

UpdateVia CNN, Ron Kampeas -- who asked the first question, which was prior to Kelly O'Donnell's -- is alleging that (on this very call) he was intentionally cut off in the middle of asking a question.  From CNN:

"McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann, asked about his lobbying work on behalf of the nation of Georgia, responded that his actions were different because they were not “covert.” The reporter who asked the question, Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, abruptly dropped off the call. He later alleged that the campaign had cut him off."