Conservative Christian groups are gearing up for a showdown with McCain at the Republican national convention. They’re keen to steer some of his more liberal policies to the right. Meanwhile, Obama’s still keeping mum about his VP, and is attempting to weather a storm on the hot button issue of late-term abortion.

Obama and late-term abortion. A few blogs have picked up on Obama’s statement (and later fudging clarification) about his stand on late-term abortion. He’d initially said he didn’t consider mental health issues to be a valid reason for a later-term abortion.  The Lawyers, guns and money blog calls the issue a “diversion”: “Admittedly, the policy consequences of what Obama is proposing would probably be negligible; as long as the decision rests with individual doctors rather than a panel, the precise definition of a health exemption makes very little difference on the ground… The problem with Obama’s statement isn’t so much a policy issue as that it plays into right-wing frames about the abortion issue.”

The Weekly Standard picked apart Obama’s statements on the issue, and contrasted them with his previous record (and teachings) on the Roe v Wade ruling which enshrined the right to abortion in 1973.

“Obama is the co-sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, which “refers to the key Supreme Court case on the issue, which was decided the same day as Roe v. Wade in 1973. In that case, Doe v Bolton, the Court said a doctor could decide to perform an abortion based on ‘all factors –physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.'”

Are we really supposed to believe that Obama, the former editor of Harvard Law Review and one time lecturer at the University of Chicago law school, doesn’t understand Roe v. Wade and a bill that he’s co-sponsoring? – The Weekly Standard

The Republican National Convention. The Washington Post has an interesting article looking at the role conservative groups hope to play in watering down some of John McCain’s more small l-liberal leanings at the upcoming RNC:

“Conservative activists are preparing to do battle with allies of Sen. John McCain in advance of September’s Republican National Convention, hoping to prevent his views on global warming, immigration, stem cell research and campaign finance from becoming enshrined in the party’s official declaration of principles.” — Washington Post

Webb rules out tilt at Democratic VP. Still no official word from the Obama camp about who his VP running mate will be, but Jim Webb has ruled himself out of the race. Politico quotes him as saying he’d “communicated to Senator Obama and his presidential campaign my firm intention to remain in the United States Senate,’ said Webb in a statement. “Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for Vice President.”

Obama’s other (VP) women. According to an interesting feature in Salon, we may still see a female contender on the Dem’s ticket — the Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius. Her advocacy of political moderation works well for the “mostly ultra-Republican” Kansas voters, and Obama seems to be a fan too.

“Since endorsing Obama in late January, Sebelius has been a tireless campaigner for the Illinois senator, who has Kansas roots on his mother’s side. Obama, who often resists the sloppy excess of rote political praise, pulled out all the stops when asked last week about Sebelius as a possible running mate. “I love Kathleen Sebelius,” he gushed. “I think she is as talented a public official as there is right now. Integrity. Competence. She can work with all people of all walks of life. But I promised that I am not going to say anything about my vice president until I actually introduce my vice president.” — Salon

Don’t count out McCain. Yes, Obama’s leading in the polls right now, but the election is months away. The Race 4 2008 blog contrasts the polls with the history of elections featuring familiar faces and newcomers, and says it’s too early to count McCain out. “So let’s count this up. Of the seven races that had clear established products versus fresh new faces, the voters broke for the fresh new face in only two of them.” — Race 4 2008

But over at the Washington Post, The Fix blog took a very different stance, quoting a poll which asked readers their first impressions of McCain and Obama.

“For McCain, nearly one in five (19 percent) said ‘old’. For Obama, roughly that same number (20 percent) said ‘outsider/change’.

“Therein lies the problem for McCain in this election. If the choice ultimately is between an “old” candidate and one seen as a ‘change’ agent, the ‘change’ candidate is going to win almost every time — particularly in an environment where voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and badly want to try something different.” — Washington Post

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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