John McCain visited the ladies of The View this morning. The show targets McCain's new favorite demographic: women. And this was not a Michelle Obama-style interview about pantyhose -- the hosts delved right into Gov. Palin's qualifications and records, the McCain campaign's recent attack ads, and abortion policy.
Barbara Walters opened the interview with questions about Sarah Palin's qualifications for the Vice-Presidency, asking exactly how she would reform Washington. McCain said as Governor of Alaska Palin "took government out of the hands of the special interests and the oil companies and the old-boy network and gave it back to the people of Alaska." He compared Palin's record of taking on special-interests to his own, adding "I have not been elected Miss Congeniality every year."
Vocal Democrat Joy Behar did not mince words at that point, telling the candidate (whom at one point she called "John"), "I don't see the old John McCain who really used to buck the system as much. Because, I understand why, you want to get elected." McCain took that jab well, laughing as the audience applauded. But he challenged Behar right back: "I've been through this litany before. What specifically have I quote-unquote changed?"
Behar asked him about two recent widely-discredited McCain ads: the "lipstick on a pig" video and an ad that accused Barack Obama of wanting to teach kindergartners about sex. Behar said, "we know those two ads are untrue, they're lies. And yet you're at the end of it saying I approve these messages. Do you really approve them?" McCain defended himself: "actually they're not lies."
Walters then pointed out that he himself had used the lipstick line, but McCain held that Obama "chooses his words very carefully" and the reference was no accident. McCain then changed the subject to the series of joint town-hall meetings that he proposed to Obama this summer, and said that if they had done that tour, "I don't think you'd see the tenor of this campaign." Presumably he meant that the town-halls would have kept the campaign issues-focused. But using the town-hall thing to respond to questions about his ads almost seemed to imply that McCain blames Obama's resistance to the town halls for his own negative campaigning...which seems far-fetched.
The show's most conservative host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, asked McCain about his stance on Roe vs. Wade, assuring him "you have my vote" but saying there would be "no softballs." McCain responded that he thinks Roe was a "very bad decision." He said he wouldn't be using any litmus tests for judicial nominations, but did use the pro-life code words about "strict interpretation" of the Constitution.
McCain's wife Cindy joined him for the last segment of the interview. Asked about her views on abortion, Mrs. McCain said she disagrees with Sarah Palin's no-exception stance on abortion, but that in a McCain administration there will be room for differing opinions.
McCain quipped: "I'll appoint Joy to be the director of communication."