ABC News’ Bret Hovell reports: John McCain added a moment of levity to his stump speech this evening in New Mexico, ridiculing his opponent Barack Obama for a news report that indicated his staff has already drafted his inaugural address.
“My friends, when I pull this thing off, I have a request for my opponent,” McCain said. “I want him to save that manuscript of his inaugural address, and donate it to the Smithsonian. And they can put it right next to the Chicago paper that said ‘Dewey Defeats Truman.’”
The crowd cheered and McCain senior staffers and some traveling press laughed at the line.
“There’s 10 days left in this election,” McCain continued. “Maybe Barack Obama will have his first State of the Union address ready before you head to the polls.”
The New York Times reported today that among the planning for a transition to the White House by both campaigns, is a draft of an inaugural address written for Obama.
The story also included speculation on potential cabinet officials in either a McCain or Obama administration.
But the Obama campaign said that is inaccurate.
“While this charge is completely false and there is no draft of an inaugural address for Senator Obama, the last thing we need is a candidate like John McCain who just plans on re-reading George Bush’s,” spokesman Bill Burton e-mailed reporters.
And the Web site of John Podesta, the aide reported to have written the speech, indicates that it was a literary device used to close his book about “the history and successes of progressive politics in the 20th century.”
Podesta says he wrote the speech in March, when he was working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination, and it wasn’t clear who the party’s candidate would be.
Obama’s campaign says Podesta wrote the speech on his own, unsolicited, for his book, and not for Obama.
McCain’s stump speech has been vigorously regimented the last few weeks as the campaign as moved to a higher level of message discipline to hammer home their closing argument in the days leading up to the election. But the line and its delivery were reminiscent of McCain’s comedic turn at the Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York a few weeks back, albeit on a much smaller scale. (The Al Smith speech and Saturday’s swipe at Obama were written by the same McCain speechwriter.)
McCain’s closest advisor, Mark Salter, gave his boss a big thumbs-up at the end of his remarks from a nearby camera platform.
McCain is behind in the polls in several crucial swings states with only ten days to go before the election. But he wrapped up his remarks in New Mexico Saturday with a commitment to keep up the fight.
“I’ve fought for you most of my life and in places where defeat meant more than returning to a Senate seat,” McCain said. “There are other ways to love this country but I’ve never been the kind to do back down when the stakes are high.”
Jake Tapper Contributed Reporting