Yesterday I had the oppourtunity to visit the RNC's temporary headquarters here in Denver, where they hope to play skunks in the Democrats' garden party. Located near Denver's downtown, it has the feel of 24's CTU -- to gain access I had to drive into a back alley, flash credentials, and have a security guard open a black gate into a small parking lot. Inside, the offices have a rapid response war room, a TV-ready press conference room, and lots of flat screen televisions playing news.
All of the RNC's communications' staff as well as some McCain folks have made the trip to Denver (about two dozen people in all), and each day the HQ will host a different surrogate who will try to undermine the Democratic convention's theme of the day. The lineup includes Carly Fiorina and Democrats supporting McCain on Monday, Mitt Romney on Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday, and Tim Pawlenty on Thursday.
I asked Chairman Mike Duncan if this was a sort of shadow convention. "They've got their own shadow convention," Duncan said, referring to the disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters. "We're just commenting on it."
The theme of the Republican response is Not Ready '08 (see website here) with the slogan "a mile high and an inch deep," which I don't think makes much sense, to be honest.
I asked Duncan how the RNC expected to respond to several attacks we'd expect to hear from the Democrats over the course of the week.
McCain is out of touch with the economic anxiety of Americans because he can't recall how many houses he has? Duncan responded by noting Tony Rezko, and then arguing that Obama's plans to raise taxes and oppose drilling to reduce gas prices shows that he's out of touch.
How about the argument that the agreement between Iraq and the U.S. to remove U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 demonstrates that everybody now agrees with Obama's call for a timetable? Duncan said that Obama opposed the surge that made talk of withdrawal possible and that Joe Biden supported dividing up Iraq, which is opposed by many Iraqis.
The overall response to Biden pick has several layers -- that Biden repeatedly said that Obama wasn't ready while offering praise for McCain, that the choice of Biden demonstrates that Obama knew he was "lacking on foreign policy," and they are "birds of a feather" domestically, especially when it comes to raising taxes.
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