In a development that is sure to further upset the “what happened to Scott?” crowd, Politico reports that McClellan is noncommittal about who he will support in the presidential campaign:
But without prompting, he said he was “intrigued by Sen. Obama’s message.”
“It’s a message that is very similar to the one that Gov. Bush ran on in 2000,” McClellan said.
He offered similar comments about Obama on ABC’s “World News Tonight.”
In his book, the former Bush spokesman describes his upbringing in a house where his mother was the moderate Democrat mayor of Austin (Carole Keeton Strayhorn later became a Republican before running as an independent for governor in 2006). McClellan recounts how, when he first came to work for Bush in 1999, he admired the governor’s willingness to work across party lines in the Texas capitol.
When loyalists to President Bush — most notably Karl Rove — say they are shocked about the things McClellan wrote in his new book about the administration (and what he’s saying now), I have little sympathy. After all, this is what (pretty much) the whole Republican establishment tried to sell with the Bush package back in 2000, including how great it was that he worked with Democrats:
Tom Pauken, who chaired the state’s Republican Party in 1994 and whose bona fides are well established, warned in May 1999 that Bush was a “me-too Republican.”
“His handlers are going to position him in the campaign as a conservative answer,” Pauken told an alternative publication, the Austin Chronicle. “So many Republicans who are so desperate to win the White House will say he is our only hope, that we need to vote for him. But grassroots conservatives, movement conservatives, know he’s not one of us.”
During Bush’s campaign for re-election as governor in 1998, he was endorsed by the most powerful Democrat in the state, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. A few other prominent Democrats supported him against their own candidate, Garry Mauro, because as PBS reported at the time, “he has made it a policy to work in a bipartisan way to get his agenda passed.” The Washington Post noted in a May 1997 article that Bush was “more likely to draw opposition from his party’s right wing than from the Democrats,” and that he worked well with Texas House Speaker Pete Laney and the “legendarily terse and strong-willed” Bullock.
And these are the kinds of people he brought with him from Texas to Washington. Remember?!
Update, 9:30 a.m.:
Just discovered that the Washington Times has an article up about McClellan’s Texas roots. In two words: Blame Mom.