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McCain reaches out to blogs…on the left; Update: “A new standard for transparency and accountability”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 16, 2008 09:48 AM

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The McCain campaign holds weekly blogger conference calls with its candidate. There are many questions I know you’d like asked, but I’ve never been able to ask them because I haven’t been one of the privileged few conservative bloggers allowed into the McCain sanctum to ask those questions for you.

Yesterday, I learned that several far left-wing blogs were invited to participate in The Maverick’s blogger conference call session (it’s part of that Big Vision Thing). I e-mailed McCain’s New Media guy, Patrick Hynes, asking if I could participate in the next blogger conference call.

After all, McCain said yesterday he’ll “listen to any idea that is offered in good faith and intended to help solve our problems, not make them worse” and “will set a new standard for transparency and accountability” and “will work with anyone, of either party, to make this country safe, prosperous and proud.”

If he’s willing to take questions from hostile liberal bloggers, why not take some from conservative bloggers who represent substantial readerships with dissenting views on how best to make this country “safe, prosperous, and proud?”

I’ll keep you updated.

Here’s the WashTimes’ account of McCain “widening his dialogue” with blogs on the left, including a blogger who posts at The Huffington Post–and even non-political blogs:

Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign is trying to tap a new audience of potential voters by taking his campaign message straight to liberal and nonpolitical issues-based blogs, which reach millions of readers but don’t often delve into conservative politics.

The strategy was in full swing yesterday when Mr. McCain invited non-conservative bloggers to join his regular blogger conference call, just hours after he delivered a major speech previewing his war strategy and other priorities for a first presidential term…

…Mr. McCain’s campaign said the Web outreach is a logical extension of an attempt to reach voters beyond his base. It also builds on his successful use of conference calls with conservative bloggers during the Republican primary, which blunted many of the harshest criticisms of the senator.

“The plan is to take the work we’ve already built on with conservative bloggers and to open up a dialogue with non-conservative bloggers and even nonpolitical bloggers,” said Patrick Hynes, Mr. McCain’s point man for blog outreach.

“We hope to be the most accessible and transparent campaign in history, to take advantage of what we think is one of the campaign’s strongest assets, which is Senator McCain himself, and frankly to empower voters who are also bloggers to get the answers they need to decide who to vote for.”

Even sports bloggers will get a chance to hang with McCain:

Going forward, Mr. Hynes said, the campaign would like to have Mr. McCain talk to sports bloggers, too, as a way to “humanize John McCain as something other than a carbon-copy politician running for office, delivering talking points.”

On yesterday’s call, Mr. McCain fielded seven questions, including three from non-conservative bloggers: Kate Sheppard, political reporter for environmental Web site Grist.org; Joanne Bamberger of PunditMom (http://punditmom1. blogspot.com); and Erin Kotecki Vest, who blogs at catchall site BlogHer.com as well as liberal sites HuffingtonPost.com and MOMocrats.com.

“I give them an A for effort,” Ms. Vest said in a phone interview after the conference call.

She asked Mr. McCain whether the vision he laid out yesterday of U.S. troops succeeding in Iraq by 2013 didn’t amount to the sort of timetable he has criticized when Democrats propose a specific date for withdrawal.

Mr. McCain shot right back: “Either you didn’t read or didn’t understand my speech. One of the two.”

Ms. Vest said she “read it and understood it just fine, and I don’t understand how 2013 isn’t a date.”

She said she doesn’t expect bloggers to be as nice as some of the traditional media have been in asking him questions, and was thankful for the chance.

“The fact that I could ask my question and have it smacked down is farther than a lot of people could get,” she said.

Yeah, tell me about it.

***

This is indeed an instructive example of how a McCain White House would run: He’ll talk to the far left. He’ll talk to “acceptable” conservatives. But the grass-roots Right? Immigration enforcement proponents? You’ll be as out of luck as you would be with Barack Obama in office.

Commenter MadMoney: “I need a list of the pre-approved conservative blogs so I can read those and learn to love the change we deserve.”

Heh. You’re screwed.

1ascrewed002.jpg

***

Update 10:17am: I kid you not. I just received an e-mail from Republican Internet strategist David All touting McCain’s liberal blogger outreach.

It is titled: “McCain: Model of effective blogger outreach” and touts the Washington Times article:

I wanted to share with you a story that quotes me running on the front page of today’s Washington Times which reports on John McCain’s willingness to reach beyond his likely allies in the blogosphere to disarm his critics on the left and further amplify his message with niche bloggers.

And that’s what’s so noxious about this entire illusion of “outreach.” Not that McCain exercises his prerogative to shut out unacceptable conservative blogs, but that he and his promoters are so self-congratulatory about their illusion of inclusion.

Update 10:35am: Now, the RNC is sending out the Washington Times article. Just got an e-mail from the RNC online communications director: “If you post on it, please can you send me a link.”

I did.

Update 11:36am Eastern: Just heard from Patrick Hynes: “Yes, you will be invited to all future calls.”

Stay tuned.

Hey, now that the McCain campaign is embracing a “new standard of transparency and accountability,” how about opening up the weekly blogger conference calls to other conservative bloggers who haven’t had a seat at the table?

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