Election 2008


This is Day to Day. I'm Alex Cohen.


And I'm Madeleine Brand. Let's turn now to political news and our weekly chat with Ron Elving. He's NPR's senior Washington editor. Hi, Ron.

RON ELVING: Hello, Madeleine.

BRAND: Well, you know, last time we talked, last week, we were all gorging on Sarah Palin, and I'm wondering, as the new week begins, is the honeymoon over between the media and Sarah Palin?

(Soundbite of laughter)

ELVING: I think that there are going to be a great number of Sarah Palin stories again this week, but they'll probably have a little different kind of tone. We have learned a lot more about Sarah Palin in the last week, and a great deal of it brings her image into sharper focus, maybe brings her to earth a little bit, particularly learning about some of the things she did as mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska, including asking for a couple of hundred million dollars in earmarks, which was a smaller number from what Alaska had asked for before, but which was certainly a far cry from walking away from earmarks. And we learned a lot more about that bridge to nowhere and so forth. So the picture is beginning to fill in, and that makes Sarah Palin something more than just a skyrocket phenomenon.

BRAND: And what do you think the effect will be of the Charlie Gibson interviews?

ELVING: I don't think as many people saw them as it would take for them to really have the kind of effect that some historic interviews have had that really changed the course of a candidacy. I do think we got a sense, though, of the degree which she's being prepared for these and the degree to which the campaign is trying to form up the answers she would give.

I didn't get the sense that this was the sort of interview Sarah Palin would've given a month earlier or six months ago, when NPR interviewed her and a number of other people interviewed her. On some of these same subjects, she sounded quite different. So, clearly, she is now in the national campaign mode, and they are seeing her as forming a sort of function for the McCain-Palin campaign.

BRAND: OK. And let's talk about the tone of the campaigns. You have a former Bush advisor, Karl Rove, on Fox yesterday. Even he is saying that Senator McCain had gone maybe too far in some of his attack ads against Barack Obama.

ELVING: Yes, he said both campaigns had gone a step too far in their campaign ads up to now. No surprise that he feels that way about the Obama campaign, that would be what you would expect from Karl Rove.

It's a little surprising that he would also include Senator McCain in that, particularly with reference to this kindergarten ad, where Barack Obama supported the program by which kindergartners were taught what was inappropriate and appropriate in terms of the way adults touched them and also how to identify somebody who is perhaps a predator and how to tell adults about such a person. I doubt that very many people would consider that sex education or disapprove of it, and I doubt that John McCain would, either.

So I think Rove and a lot of other people were denigrating that particular ad. There had been some others that stretched the truth, and the fact that Karl Rove would be including this, when he is obviously still very closely associated with many of the people who are running the McCain campaign, shows that perhaps they had stepped over that mythical line in the sand and will probably see a little bit different attitude from some of the McCain ads in the next week.

BRAND: OK. Now, fundraising, Obama raising a record 66 million dollars last month.

ELVING: That's right. And it appears that's going to be about 20 million dollars more than John McCain raised. But at the same time, a couple of caveats to that. While it is a measure of Obama's continuing appeal, number one, he does take some heat for opting out of the public finance system, and that's been out there for a while. We'll see if it comes back and hurts him.

Number two, the amount of money that Barack Obama is raising, while it is phenomenal, it is pretty much necessary for him to keep up that level straight through November because otherwise, even though John McCain is taking public financing, he's also backed up by the larger Republican National Committee, which is doing terribly well, enormously well, especially since the Sarah Palin announcement, and all those independent groups that are weighing in on the behalf of John McCain. So that evens the playing field to a large degree.

BRAND: NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. Thanks, Ron.

ELVING: Thank you, Madeleine.

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