Thursday, May 01, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 1, 2008

It’s good to know national political types seem to think of New Mexico first these days, at least when buying television air time.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain a few weeks ago chose New Mexico as the place to debut the first ad of his campaign for November’s general election.

Now the pro-Democrat has selected New Mexico and fellow battleground state Iowa to air an ad attacking McCain. The spot is scheduled to begin running on Albuquerque stations today, which is the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s oft-mocked “Mission Accomplished” speech. MoveOn is spending $160,000 between the two states to run the ad.

Why New Mexico? “Because McCain has been (advertising) in New Mexico,” said Trevor Fitzgibbon, a MoveOn publicist who volunteered as Barack Obama’s press spokesman in this state during the New Mexico Democratic Caucus campaign. “MoveOn is looking to hit McCain in the places where he is up because the Dems keep fighting with each other.”

The ad features a narrator, along with recorded voices of President Bush and McCain.

“Five years ago, George Bush stood under a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner and announced: (Bush’s voice) ‘Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.’ John McCain said the end of the Iraq war was very much in sight. Now, we need to know how long we’d be in Iraq if John McCain were president. (McCain’s voice) ‘And then I don’t think Americans are concerned if we’re there for 100 years or 1,000 years or 10,000 years.’ 100 years in Iraq? And you thought no one could be worse than George Bush.” (see YouTube below)

Unsurprisingly, Republicans — including New Mexico Republicans — aren’t that wild about the ad.

Various e-mail rapid responses by Republican organizations point to various sources, including that say attacks on McCain’s “100 year war” statement are misleading. In a critique of a recent spot by the Democratic National Committee, Factcheck said the ad “doesn’t mention that McCain was speaking specifically about a peacetime presence.”

State GOP chairman Allen Weh said Wednesday, “This ad is deliberately misleading which, coming from this far left organization, shouldn’t surprise anyone. If the two Democratic candidates wanted to show they were made of presidential timber, they’d criticize this ad and ask them to pull it. It’s certainly appropriate to point out that Senator McCain hasn’t been shy about repudiating ads that he thinks aren’t honest or lack civility, which speaks volumes about his statesmanship and character.”

Democrats, however, have criticized McCain for first repudiating a Republican ad in North Carolina — which tied local Democrats to the now-infamous clip of former Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright’s most controversial sermon — then, a few days later, bringing up Wright’s relationship with Obama and saying Wright is fair game.

Maybe both sides could turn this argument into TV commercials. To be shown first in New Mexico, of course.

Panderama: Gov. Bill Richardson, who has taken a lot of flack from the Hillary Clinton campaign ever since he endorsed Barack Obama, is now accusing Clinton of “pandering.”

Oh well, it’s not as bad as comparing someone with Judas Iscariot.
Richardson appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball Tuesday to talk with host Chris Matthews about the federal gas-tax “holiday” idea proposed by McCain and endorsed by Clinton.

Richardson called the idea a “quick fix that doesn’t work,” adding, “When I was energy secretary with President (Bill) Clinton, we were faced with the same situation — high gasoline prices, high oil prices. The last thing you want to do is a gimmick like a three-month tax holiday. Not only is it bad energy policy, but this is money that goes away from the highway trust fund. We need to rebuild our highways, our infrastructure, our electricity grid. My state, for instance, would lose about $60 million if we did this gimmick for three months.

“The right policy is what Obama says,” Richardson continued, “a new policy that shifts dramatically from fossil fuels to renewable energy to new technologies, energy efficiency, conservation, the American people being more energy-conscious and conserving. ... We need a long-term policy that is going to mean a lot of sacrifices and changes in the way we live.”

Matthews asked him: “Do voters see through this? Do they see what’s an open and obvious pander, or do they say, ‘Wait a minute, I need a break; I’ll take anything I can get’?”

The governor replied, “I think voters see a pander. They know that the half a gas tank that they’re going to save over a three-month period is not the answer. They know that the major oil companies today are making huge profits, that what we need is a long-term policy that shifts away from fossil fuels, that we need strong conservation measures, that we need new investments in solar, wind and biomass. ... We’ve got to be more energy-conscious and not have a quick gimmick for three months that is going to end and is going to hurt the basic infrastructure of this country. We need to rebuild those highways. Look what happened in Minneapolis with that bridge. We need to repair those bridges around the country.”

(The above quotes were taken from a copyrighted transcript provided by Federal News Service Inc., a private Washington, D.C., company that was nice enough to send me a copy.)

Not that Richardson is averse to all tax holidays. For the past three years, New Mexico has had one in August, in which school clothes, school supplies and some computers are exempt from state gross-receipts tax.

A big difference, of course, is that our back-to-school tax holiday lasts only three days instead of three months.

Last year, according to the Associated Press, the state Tax & Revenue Department estimated the holiday created a statewide revenue loss of between $1.9 million and $ 3 million and $1.3 million to $2.1 million to local governments.

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