The Barack Obama campaign apparently went outside the normal spin guardrails yesterday in trying to explain how John McCain did so well in Saturday's Saddleback Forum with Pastor Rick Warren.
As NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted on Sunday's "Meet the Press," what the Obama campaign is "putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. . . . He seemed so well prepared."
But Pastor Rick Warren assured CNN that Mr. McCain didn't hear any of the questions in advance, even if the candidate was stuck in traffic and was a bit late arriving to the pre-arranged quiet room or "cone of silence." Charlie Black, a McCain adviser who was with him at the time, confirmed that Mr. McCain was in a motorcade and "then a holding room in another building with no TV."Mr. Warren says he trusts "the integrity of both" candidates, and joked that while Mr. McCain may not have been fully in the "cone of silence," "he was in the cone of a Secret Service motorcade."
For its part, the Obama campaign officially says it now assumes both candidates were equally unaware of the questions and isn't interested in pursuing the matter.
Interestingly enough, Mr. McCain's campaign is and has written a letter to NBC News citing Ms. Mitchell's ruminations as evidence of bias in its campaign coverage. "Instead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points," wrote campaign manager Rick Davis. "This is irresponsible journalism and sadly indicative of the level of objectivity we have witnessed at NBC News this election cycle."
Somehow I doubt if Team McCain had been privy to any of Pastor Warren's questions, it would now be seeking to raise the stakes by challenging Andrea Mitchell's bizarre report. It will be interesting to see if Ms. Mitchell does any further "reporting" on her scoop or simply tries to let the issue fade away.
writiing in today's Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE