Here’s a tidbit for the political geeks among us: Barack Obama’s campaign feared that John McCain could win the election if McCain picked Joe Lieberman as his running mate. McCain’s campaign knew he couldn’t do that because of opposition from the GOP’s socially conservative base.
That word came today from Steve Hildebrand, deputy campaign manager for Obama, and Sarah Simmons, McCain director of strategy, and Christian Ferry, McCain deputy campaign manager. The three spoke at a Post-Election Conference at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.
Hildebrand said the Obama campaign worried that if McCain picked one-time Democrat Lieberman it would cement McCain’s credentials for reaching across the aisle. That would plump up McCain’s maverick image and make it harder for Obama to win the support of independent voters.
Simmons and Ferry said they knew going into September that they faced a difficult convention. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s presence on their far right made the situation even tighter. That meant picking Lieberman was unthinkable.
Both Simmons and Ferry argued vigorously that Sarah Palin was a net plus for the McCain campaign. She energized volunteers and donors, they said. While acknowledging those arguments, most of the rest of the folks at the conference, including reporters and pollsters, scoffed at the idea that Palin ultimately did anything except hurt McCain.
If Palin really did cripple McCain’s presidential ship, then we now know: It was the GOP’s ultra-conservative, religious base that lead to her selection. I admit that this isn't new news, but it's nice to get official confirmation of what many have long suspected.