Frederick, speaking for McCain’s volunteer base.

Time Magazine’s Karen Tumulty was dispatched to cover John McCain’s ground game in Virginia, and she ended up visiting the campaign’s Gainsville office with Del. Jeff Frederick. Tumulty describes in Time magazine the scene that she witnessed:

With so much at stake, and time running short, Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.” It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. “And he won’t salute the flag,” one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, “We don’t even know where Senator Obama was really born.” Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.

Tumulty tried to head out with those canvassers, presumably to see how this line of thinking did with winning over voters, but she was barred from doing so.

John McCain was interviewed by Jay Warren at WSLS yesterday, and Warren asked him about the widely-covered Time article:

David Kurtz at TPM writes that “McCain can’t quite bring himself to condemn” Frederick’s statement, and that seems like an apt description. But I think that there are really a couple of other aspects of this that are more interesting.

The first is that this is a reminder that Jeff Frederick is the greatest thing to happen to Virginia Democrats since Harry Flood Byrd, Sr., just as expected. Given an opportunity to correct the record by Tim Craig, Frederick stuck to his guns. God bless him, Frederick is piloting the Titanic all the way to the bottom of the Atlantic.

The second is that this reveals McCain campaign’s ground game for what it is. The recently-reactivated conservative base is peopled substantially by the conspiracy theorists of the angry right—Obama is a secret agent for al-Qaeda, he’s the anti-Christ, he’s hiding his past with a forged birth certificate—and these are the very people fired up enough to show up and volunteer. These people can show up and parrot these looney urban legends (“he won’t salute the flag”) and are welcomed with open arms by Jeff Frederick. Welcome to the McCain campaign!

It appears that both Jeff Frederick and John McCain are headed for Mistaken Point.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

14 replies on “Frederick, speaking for McCain’s volunteer base.”

  1. The recently-reactivated conservative base is peopled substantially by the conspiracy theorists of the angry right.

    I ran into a guy the other week (elderly, retired, war veteran) who’s a republican. He started chatting about politics and when he got to Obama- sure enough I heard those same things said.

    “Obama has terrorist connections. He went to a madrasa. He has ties to Saudi Arabia and them arabs.”

    Of course I just rolled my eyes and changed the subject, thinking you can’t really correct people like that even though they are clearly wrong. At that extreme it is too much like a religious belief. Plus I was at work and make it a rule not to talk politics with the customers.

    As a side note- I have not yet (in my limited experience) met one white male over 55 who will has said they will vote for Obama. They’ve all said McCain. And while it was never a reason given I believe it’s racism, people like that just cannot bring themselves to vote for a black person. With those people I have met- I think it is generational thing.

  2. Happy to provide some white and over-55 examples, TrvlnMn – my neighbor Jack is a 70-something vet, lifetime Virginia resident, and a very strong Obama supporter. My grandfather, also a 70 something vet – and what one might call a “soft racist”* – will also be voting for Obama in Minnesota. I could provide a goodly number of additional examples, but these are two guys I think conventional wisdom would place well outside of the reach of Obama.

    *In that easy with the ignorant generalizations, uniformly great with specific people way.

  3. TravlnMn, that was so last month! People have now seen their quarterly 401K statements, and watched their home values plummet; even Fox News can’t lipstick this pig. Other than the willfully, defiantly ignorant the Republican Party has become an Amway meeting. That Reagan quote, “Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem” is revealed as a cruel hoax.

    Your guy was stuck somewhere between Denial and Anger on the GOP grief process.

  4. Scary stuff. People will believe anything if they hear it enough.

    Getting a haircut in August at a Hair Cuttery, the 40-something woman cutting my hair said out of the blue, “I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, but his name scares the hell out of me. Barack Hussein Obama?!? What is that?” Sounded like she’d vote for him, but it was startling to hear.

  5. Jeff Frederick can be forgiven for getting a bit into the hype while trying to fire-up a band of canvassers, just as Mark Warner can be forgiven for getting a little over the edge while talking to a partisan crowd about the Religious Reich, gun nuts and those who elect to home-school their kids.

    We would prefer that partisans from both parties would offer real solutions instead of tossing out various attempts to play upon the fears and prejudices of the masses.

    It would be constructive to have Republican leaders enunciate where their ideas will be superior to the Democrat side, or where the GOP side has any new or effective ideas at all. All we have heard from McCain-Pain is slime and innuendo; along with the typical, “Willie Horton” type of ads.

    On the Democrat side, Obama’s issues that are listed on his website are a step in the right direction, but are still too general. Mark Warner could have really helped matters, rather than exacerbating them, by addressing WHY citizens are home schooling, WHY they are arming themselves (and rightfully fear the government) and WHY there is such a wide gulf between the evangelical community and the Democratic Party.

    While the reasons are relatively well known, instead of describing those groups as kooks, Democrats need to actively engage in dialog with these citizens. Republicans need to make similar efforts, focused on broadening the base. Jeff Frederick has already begun working to increase participation among Asians and Latino voters, and for that, he deserves commendation.

    Both parties, while trying to mobilize their base, have been further alienating what was formerly called, “the great silent majority.” The citizens must demand that campaigns be about an honest discussion of real solutions and ideas and the voters must punish those like the McCain-Pain ticket who spend the campaign smearing the opposition instead of offering constructive ideas or even a vision of hope for a more prosperous future under their proposed leadership.

  6. I’m not a big fan of some of the things I’m hearing from the base (the lady saying she heard Obama is an Arab like it’d be the worst thing in the world for one of many) but:

    Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon.

    This statement is not inaccurate. Barack Obama’s friend (a relationship confirmed by many in Chicago) Ayers took credit for bombing the Pentagon, a credit that he took during his book (though he says that while he himself did not do the bombing the collective did so it’s as good as him). Osama Bin Laden’s associates crashed a plane into the Pentagon. So both associated with people who have bombed the Pentagon.

    At its base, the statement IS true, despite Time’s assertion it is not.

    Reading into the statement further, as people are doing when attacking Frederick, you are wanting the statement to say both Obama and Osama planned and participated in attacks and that is not what is being said. I also don’t get where any of this as racist, an assertion you did not make, Waldo, but that I am seeing many others make and I just don’t get.

  7. So, Jason, you’d have no problems with me saying that both John McCain and Osama bin Laden killed civilians as part of furthering their political agendas?

  8. Rhetoric like Both have friends who bombed the Pentagon is what stokes the fear and furthers the agenda that somehow, Obama is different, not like us. Fear those who are not white Christians.

    The woman in the article said Obama would not salute the flag; the man said that we don’t know where Obama was born. Not only is this pep talk encouraging this sort of insanity, but what is next?

    Karen Tumulty won’t be there the next time. I think what we are seeing here is the cleaned up version because the press was there. Next time, will it be

    He’s a terrorist! Kill him! He’s an Arab!

    and then we will have nut cases out there feeling empowered to do something about these foreigners and the brown people.

    Or maybe I have been reading too much Virgil Goode lately, he sounds frighteningly similar to Jeff Frederick.

  9. How we (as a society) after the election deal with the hatred that the GOP has stoked up will be terribly important, I think. The GOP has generally thrived on hate, but not as front and center and naked as this in a long time. Obama may win, but these folks won’t just go away. I’d like to think that there’s some way to positively bring them back into decent society.

  10. (Huh. Waldo, did I have a comment here that disappeared? I responded to J., but it seems to be gone . . . it may be that I didn’t hit post, but I don’t think so.)

  11. Nope, MB—you’ve got these two comments in a row here, but that’s it. And I’ve got no spam filters, thanks to the “Democratic” question, so that couldn’t be at play here.

  12. Senator McCain has now characterized Jeff Frederick as “somebody no one knows”. For some reason, I’m conjuring the image of a teary-eyed Frederick saying to McCain, “That was really uncalled for, Senator.”

    Irrelevance. The worst insult.

  13. As I said “in my limited experience.” Which is a handful of retired men at one retirement community, two mid-fifties co-workers, several uncles (and I’m not proud of that), and a few regulars at a place I eat. With the exception of the retirement community all the others are life long born in Virginia residents. It isn’t the Zogby poll by any means- never meant to suggest it was.

    I’m voting Obama in November, but I’m predicting McCain.

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