It's one of those "through the looking glass" moments I get often when watching the news coverage of John McCain. Sitting on a new NBC/WSJ poll that shows that young voters (18-34) preferring John McCain slightly over Barack Obama and significantly more against Hillary Clinton (why???), Chris Matthews poses the question to his panel if they think that McCain can grab that voting bloc.
Their responses really reflect the media's love affair with John McCain. For David Gregory, McCain transcends the innate skepticism politics that youths have, despite his rather long history of flip-flopping and pandering. For Katty Kay, he represents the security vote, despite the fact that he continues to champion an occupation that the GAO has said is making us less safe. And for Howard Fineman, he suspects that young voters may be attracted to his "feisty grandpa" routine, despite an infamous surly temper. Only Philadelphia anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah notes that the media coverage is helping McCain and that his support for Bush's policies in Iraq may cost him dearly.
Transcripts below the fold:
Matthews: David, can he win them (the youth vote)?
Gregory: It’s possible. I think, authenticity and McCain are two things you think about. And I think people my age — in the 30s and younger – are more skeptical of institutions. They’re skeptical about politics, about political figures and I still think McCain transcends that. And certainly Obama does. I think it will be a tight contest.
Matthews: Katty, he’s pro-life on abortion rights and he’s pro-war. Can he win young people with those stances?
Kay: I think he can win if security and the war are issues in November. If they’re on the front page and people are feeling nervous, the way they did in 2000, the way they did in 2004, then I think John McCain resonates experience, gravitas, somebody who you might feel safe with in a way that Barack Obama doesn’t.
Matthews: Renee, let’s talk about the rallies. When we had McCain at the college fair this week, there’s 4,000 kids, students at Villanova. That was the largest crowd he ever had. Obama wades through crowds like that every day of the week. How do you beat a guy who can get registration figures up in Pennsylvania like that and get crowds like that?
Chenault-Fattah: I mean, his appearance on Hardball with you certainly served him well. But I think this is a candidate who’s defined by the war. Interestingly, when he was talking to you about Iraq and the future of Iran, that audience was silent. And I don’t know how, if that is the issue come the fall, and we’ll certainly see what happens, how he transcends that, no matter how straight-talking he fashions himself or you know, the sense of humor that he has.
Matthews: If he can contest young voters, it seems to me he’s really in play in the general.
Fineman: I think he is. And having seen him on the campaign trail with crowds, even back in New Hampshire, he had a lot of kids working for him in New Hampshire, it was somewhat surprising. But I think he’s got that twinkle in the eye…it’s a combination of being “unpolitical” as David said, and also offering a sort of “kick butt” mentality on security, which is going to appeal to a lot of kids, it really is. More than we might think.