Hill vs. Obama More Bitter Contest Than McCain vs. Romney ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Aug 25, 2008 1:00 PM
The other day, I pondered whether McCain's team would be using Hillary and Biden's primary words against Obama if McCain planned to pick Romney as his veep. 

After all, people who live in glass houses (or plan to move into one) don't throw stones, and if McCain were to pick Romney, the Dems would likely repay them for their kindness. 

As such, I have spent the better part of a morning trying to find audio or video (not just press releases or ads using someone else's voice -- but real clips from the principals, themselves) of McCain and Romney attacking each other.  After all, I figured, they had a hotly contested primary, too, there must be plenty to find ...

Guess what?  Compared to the attacks Hillary used against Obama, Romney and McCain was child's play.  Sure, I found plenty of press releases with harsh words from surrogates and staffers.  But I was looking for the actual candidates talking trash about their opponent.

Generally speaking, though, the Romney/McCain attacks could be classified as typical primary attacks.  They say things like, "he went negative" or "he changed positions." But attacks were often prefaced by qualifiers, such as, "he's an honorable guy, but ..."  

In short, while it has been widely reported that McCain does not personally like Romney, the on-the-record attacks made during the primary were not the kind of lethal scorched-earth attacks which would disqualify someone from holding office.  They are certainly no worse than George H.W. Bush's calling Reaganomics "Voodoo economics."  (Note: I have no doubt the Democrats' oppo team will dig up some stuff that I didn't find yet...)

Conversely, Hillary's primary comments -- and ads -- essentially disqualify Obama from being president by making the argument that he's not prepared to handle the dangerous world we live in.  Likewise, Biden said he was "not ready".  These attacks are devastating as they go straight to the heart of voters' concerns that Obama is not ready to be president.

It turns out that the protracted Democratic primary really did hurt them, perhaps more than even I initially thought, and it's not because of the length of time it took -- but because of how nasty it turned toward the end...

In short, I have no doubt that the Democrats would be more than happy to use Romney's words against McCain -- and McCain's words against Romney -- but I don't think it will resonate as much as the attacks against Obama.  I think Romney still has a shot -- despite what could be read into the fact that McCain's team has sought to use primary words against Obama.