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McCain mocks Obama's premature inauguration plans, but...

October 25, 2008 |  6:36 pm

John McCain has mocked Democrat Barack Obama all week as so cocky that he is already “measuring the drapes” in the White House Oval Office. The Republican's audience usually boos on cue.

On Saturday, McCain found new ammunition (see video by clicking on the Read more line below) in a newspaper story on White House transition planning that every presidential campaign begins by now (inlcuding the Early downstate edition front page of the Chicago Tribune erroneously reporting results of the 1948 presidential electionRepublican's).

Campaigns, however, are usually careful to keep such planning behind-the-scenes to avoid inconvenient accusations of being presumptuous or over-confident.

Today's erroneous New York Times story said that part of Obama's transition team, John Podesta, who was President Bill Clinton's fourth chief of staff and now is an Obama advisor, already has drafted a sample inaugural address for the Democrat .

Obama aides quickly pointed out that Podesta wrote the speech even more prematurely -- when he was still working for rival Hillary Clinton's doomed campaign -- and published his offering in a book last summer.

A statement posted on the website of Podesta's think-tank....

...says the suggested speech was written last spring for inclusion in a book on progressive policies and that Podesta re-wrote the foreword, but not the speech, in June when Obama's Democratic nomination victory was confirmed. 

Addressing a sun-washed rally in the Old West plaza of historic Mesilla, in southern New Mexico today, (see video below) McCain did not address when the speech was written and happily twisted the news to his advantage.

“We just learned from a newspaper today that Sen. Obama’s inaugural address is already written,” McCain declared, as a crowd of about 1,200 responded with jeers. “I’m not making it up.”

“My friends, when I pull this off, I have a request for my opponent,” McCain continued, a broad grin etched on his face. “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 says ‘Dewey defeats Truman.’”

That would be the famously premature 1948 early edition wishfully announcing in a banner headline on page one of the Chicago Daily Tribune that Republican Thomas E. Dewey had beaten incumbent Democrat Harry S Truman. Truman's reelection victory was confirmed later that night (the famous photo was taken the next day), and he's been hailed ever since as a patron saint of underdog political campaigns.

“I’m a little old-fashioned about these things," McCain added today with a laugh. "But I prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome.”

Obama’s campaign did not laugh back. “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,” campaign spokesman Bill Burton snorted in an e-mail.

Burton's statement, some might note, does not dispute other details from the Times story, including reports that campaign staff members are already reviewing resumes for job applicants in an Obama administration, drafting policy options and choosing the location of Obama's first news conference as president-elect when his victory becomes certain.

--Bob Drogin

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Photo credit: Associated Press

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