Opinion: John McCain lauds Barack Obama’s strategy on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’

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We can’t tell if this is a barometer of how the fall general election might feel, but John McCain today compliments Barack Obama on his political acumen in a televised interview on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show,’ a curious appearance for a candidate still trying to gather support from the Republican Party’s social conservative base.

Host Ellen DeGeneres asks McCain about Obama’s contention that ‘a vote for you is basically a vote for’ a third George W. Bush term. Says McCain: Good strategy.

‘I think it’s a very intelligent campaign tactic. Obviously the president’s popularity and approval ratings are low. So I think it’s a pretty good tactic. I don’t think it happens to be true, and I believe that I can show people not only where we have diverged, but serious differences: the issue of climate change, which is a huge issue out there in the state of California; the issue of spending; the way the war in Iraq was conducted for nearly four years, which was terribly frustrating. So -- but basically, rather than me beat up on the president, the point is I’ve got to show my own vision and plan of action for the future of the country. And I think that’s what Americans usually, and this time, they will vote for.’


DeGeneres, who is planning her own gay wedding this summer, also asks McCain about the recent ruling by the California Supreme Court affirming gay marriage -- a flash point for religious conservatives (the video excerpt is here). DeGeneres lumps laws banning gay marriage with those that denied blacks and women the right to vote, and ‘Jim Crow’ policies. McCain says ‘people should be able to enter into legal agreements, and I think that that is something that we should encourage, particularly in the case of insurance and other areas.’ But: ‘I just believe in the unique status of marriage between man and woman.’

DeGeneres has none of that. ‘It just feels like there is this old way of thinking that we are not all the same,’ DeGeneres says. ‘When someone says, ‘You can have a contract, and you’ll still have insurance, and you’ll get all that,’ it sounds to me like saying, ‘Well, you can sit there; you just can’t sit there.’'

How does a politician respond to that? With a compliment preceding a ‘fuhgeddaboutit.’ Says McCain: ‘You articulate that position in a very eloquent fashion. We just have a disagreement. And I, along with many, many others, wish you every happiness.’ DeGeneres: ‘Thank you. So you’ll walk me down the aisle? Is that what you’re saying?’ McCain: ‘Touché.’

Obama and Clinton, it should be noted, hold similar views to McCain’s on gay marriage.

-- Scott Martelle

Photo Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.