Washington Prowler

Sedona Soundings

McCain's three-veep weekend comes up mostly dry. Also: Pelosi jeopardizes terrorism surveillance.

By 5.27.08

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THREE'S COMPANY
Despite the hype around the Memorial Weekend gathering in Sedona at Sen. John McCain's ranch, only Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is being given serious consideration for the vice presidential nomination, say McCain insiders with knowledge of the ongoing vetting process. And even that serious consideration can only go so far.

"Jindal is the only one, but there seems to be general agreement that we need him to be the best governor he can be and a leader of the Republican Party more," says one McCain campaign adviser. "McCain has gotten a good look at [Mitt] Romney as a competitor and as someone who is running in support of his candidacy, and frankly he can't tell the difference. It's been a very educational process. Let's just leave it at that."

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is not considered a serious candidate, for much the same reason as Jindal.

"People shouldn't forget that great policy ideas that are the strength of the Republican Party rose from the state level back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, guys like [then Michigan Gov. John] Engler and [then Wisconsin Gov. Tommy] Thompson. Guys like Jindal and Crist, and women like [Sarah] Palin in Alaska, we need them to be the next great party leaders long after McCain is gone," says an RNC political consultant.

McCain intends to hold at least two more "Sedona Getaways" with potential McCain Administration candidates before the GOP convention at the end of August.

PELOSI REFUSES TO MOVE ON
With Congress returning after the Memorial recess, a focus for conservatives will be passage of the bipartisan bill that would modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill has already passed the Senate, and awaits House action, which has been held up almost exclusively by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi is holding it up largely to appease far-left groups like MoveOn.org, which have made the bill that features retroactive civil immunity to telecommunications companies who cooperated with federal law enforcement and intelligence investigations a must win for this election cycle.

"MoveOn and those groups are already running ads around the country against conservative Democrats and weakened Republican candidates on the FISA issue," says a House Democratic staffer, who works for a Democrat who would be inclined to support the bill if it were given a vote. "I don't think people understand the pressure we're under."

Passage of the FISA bill is considered imperative before the August recess, because some ongoing FISA court orders will otherwise expire, and thus leave law enforcement and intelligence agencies with limited options for monitoring suspected and known terrorists overseas.

"Democrats are essentially playing politics with the security of the American people, gambling that they will be distracted by the election and not care about this," says one Republican House leadership staffer. "We have to let the people know about the potential risks involved simply because Speaker Pelosi wants to keep the radical left of her party -- largely Obama supporters -- happy."

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