Last night, Rick Davis, the campaign manager for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave CBS News’ Katie Couric a confusing answer to a question about lobbyists working for the campaign.
"How many lobbyists work here?" Couric asked from McCain HQ.
"We don’t make it a litmus test for employment at the McCain campaign," Davis said. "It goes without saying that some people who are involved in the lobbying profession do it because they are interested in that side of the equation. They’re interested in government, they’re interested in Congress, they’re interested in public service."
"So lobbyists equal public servants?" Couric asked.
"No. I didn’t say that," Davis said. "How do you distinguish someone who, you know, lobbies on behalf of cancer, from one someone who lobbies on behalf of an oil interest? I wouldn’t call them the same thing but they’re still lobbyists."
This was an odd response, given that the McCain campaign’s lobbyist policy — which was written by Davis after a series of bad headlines about lobbyists working for the self-styled government reformer — states: "No person working for the Campaign may be a registered lobbyist or foreign agent, or receive compensation for any such activity.”
Asked for clarification, McCain campaign spox Jill Hazelbaker says that she assumes Davis was referring to lobbyists who personally support McCain. "We have no paid lobbyists on staff and volunteers who happen to be lobbyists can’t advise on the issues in which they lobby," Hazelbaker says.