Will Bayh's Russia G8 Stance Become GOP Fodder?

G8 membership is not usually a front-line political issue.

But will Evan Bayh's co-sponsorship of a McCain get-tough measure on Russia's G8 status become fodder for the GOP?

"Despite what Barack Obama says, John McCain's strong position on Russia has bipartisan support even from senators reportedly under consideration to be Obama's VP," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers tells ABC News.

Although Obama and Bayh have different positions on Russia's G8 membership (not to mention on the initial authorization to use force in Iraq), the Indiana senator and former governor still brings considerable assets to the table: a rare combination of youth and experience, a centrist record, and tremendous popularity in Indiana.

Obama can also tout Bayh's work on the "3F's": fatherhood, fiscal discipline, and fairness for injured vets.

What's more, Bayh can defend his 2005 vote by saying that it is not really a vote to kick Russia out of the G8. S Con Rez 14 was a sense of congress that the "continued participation of the Russian Federation in the group of 8 nations should be conditioned on the Russian government voluntarily accepting and adhering to the norms and standards of democracy."

But with Russia stepping up its military action against Georgia, Bayh's G8 vote could join his initial support for the Iraq war as a policy disagreement that he will have to downplay if he is asked to join the Democratic ticket.

Appearing last month on CNN, Obama spoke out against McCain's support for excluding Russia from the G8. McCain wants Russia removed from the G8 as punishment for rolling back political freedoms.

"It would be a mistake," Obama told CNN when asked about McCain's proposal. "Look, if we're going to do something about nuclear proliferation, just to take one issue that I think is as important as any on the list, we've got to have Russia involved."

"The amount of loose nuclear material that is floating around in the former Soviet Union, the amount of technical know-how that is in countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain, without Russia's cooperation, our efforts in that on that front will be greatly weakened," he added.

Asked about Bayh's G8 stance, the Obama campaign adhered to its usual practice of not answering questions about Obama's possible running mate.

"We do not comment on the vice presidential selection process," said Dan Pfeiffer, the Obama communications director who previously worked for Bayh.

TiVo alert:

On Sunday's "Face the Nation," Obama VP prospect Evan Bayh faces off against McCain VP prospect Tim Pawlenty.

The Kicker: "When the house is on fire, it's better to have a psychotic fireman than no fireman at all." --Howard Wolfson explaining the Clinton campaign's decision to retain Phil Singer in "The Front-Runner's Fall" by The Atlantic's Joshua Green

On the campaign front. . .

JOHN MCCAIN -- 11:45 a.m. Town Hall, York, PA. (2004 Bush-63.7% Kerry-35.5%)

BARACK OBAMA -- Continues his vacation in Hawaii

At the White House. . .

PRESIDENT BUSH -- 1:15 p.m. Meets Coalition for Affordable American Energy.


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