Possible GOP Veep Asked How McCain's Economic Plans Differ from Bush's: "I'm Stumped!"

Election '08

You'd think, at this point in the presidential race, that McCain campaign surrogates would be prepped on how to answer some of the easy, obvious questions, such as, "Are there any differences between Bush and McCain on economic policy?" This came up in May, when Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the second highest-ranking Republican in the House, was asked to name a difference, and he couldn't come up with one. It came up again in June, when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) couldn't think of any differences either. And it was especially amusing to see this clip from CNN yesterday:

For those who can't watch clips online, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked campaign surrogate and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), a man rumored to be a VP possibility for John McCain, "Are there any significant economic differences between what the Bush administration has put forward, over these many years, as opposed to, now, what John McCain supports?"

In a painful display, Sanford hemmed and hawed for quite a while. "Yes. I mean, for instance, take, you know -- take, for instance, the issue of -- I'm drawing a blank, and I hate it when I do that, particularly on television," he said, before adding, "But take, for instance, the contrast on NAFTA."

When Blitzer noted that Bush and McCain have identical policies on trade, Sanford said he was making a point about an area of disagreement between McCain and Barack Obama. (In other words, Sanford was making up a different question and then answering it.)

The reason that Sanford was humiliated, of course, is because there are no differences. He couldn't think of one because there are none.

But, McCain supporters say, there have been key differences between them. That's true. McCain used to disagree with Bush on taxes, supply-side economics, and the estate tax, but then McCain abandoned his old persona to reinvent himself as a Bush clone. But here's the real mystery: why didn't the McCain campaign send Sanford some talking points before the interview? Something to help him avoid this embarrassment?

In other Sunday show news:
* Carly Fiorina, a leading McCain advisor and surrogate, announced that McCain has not been "aligned with Bush on Iraq." She was lying.

* Fiorina also said there is "a set of economists" who've endorsed McCain's plan to eliminate the deficit. She was lying about that, too.

* And Fiorina insisted that "[t]he principal reason that [Sen. John McCain] voted against the Bush tax cuts is that they were not accompanied by fiscal restraint." And as it turns out, she was lying about that, too.

I've got a new slogan for the Republican presidential operation: "McCain '08: The Campaign That Makes Stuff Up."

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