McCain in Colombia: Just Say No (Seriously)

By Kelly Moeller

Jul 2, 2008 12:00pm

FROM GUEST-BLOGGER RICK KLEIN, from ABC’s The Note.

Sen. John McCain gave an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning that’s worth the watch – if only if you want to hear some exotic birds (or maybe monkeys?) in the background.

If you want to listen to what McCain, R-Ariz., had to say, you’ll witness a candidate who’s perhaps a touch too defensive about the fact that he’s decided to spend three days outside of the country this week, while Sen. Barack Obama takes on GOP turf on faith, patriotism, and service.

Before Robin Roberts could ask a question, McCain said this:

“May I just say, I’m here for one day, I’m in Mexico the next day, then I’m back home — also drugs is a big, big problem in America, the continued flow of drugs from Colombia through Mexico into the United States is still one of our major challenges to all America.”

“I’ve been here many times, I’ve been here several times in the past, as well as with Mexico, and I think that it deserves our attention,” McCain added.

When Roberts asked why he was in Colombia when the economy is foremost in voters’ minds, this was McCain’s response:

“Well, I’d be glad to repeat myself,” he said. “There is clearly a continued threat of drugs pouring into the United States of America, which can harm us and our young people very badly. I’m happy to say that there has been some success. The cost of cocaine on the street is up.”

Not to belittle the nation’s drug plague — but in between the bird chirps, I think 1984 just called, asking for its candidate back.

Maybe this is huge with conservative voters and I’m missing something, but I had Nancy Reagan flashbacks. With the economy teetering, $80 SUV fill-ups, and two real wars, this is what McCain has chosen to spotlight in a foreign trip, four months before Election Day?

Just judging from the polls — shouldn’t he be a little more concerned with the price of gas than the price of cocaine?

To be fair, McCain went on to talk about free trade and the economy — including denying that he ever said he was less than expert on the economy. (Not true.)

But given the odd choice to make this trip at all — yes, foreign affairs is an area of strength, but this is not a candidate without his weaknesses — this seems a particularly odd choice of topics to emphasize when you’re there.

– Rick Klein

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