File this under: If Only Barack Obama Said It. After being asked a question on the "Suck Up Express" yesterday about his position on insurance companies covering Viagra but not birth control, McCain became visibly uncomfortable and was unable to reconcile his past vote against requiring the coverage of birth control with a statement one of his top advisers made just earlier this week.
When McCain was asked for his position on the issue, he said—with a nervous laugh–“I certainly do not want to discuss that issue.”
The reporter pressed. “But apparently you’ve voted against—“
“I don’t know what I voted,” McCain said.
The reporter explained that McCain voted against a bill in 2003 that would have required health insurance companies to cover prescription birth control. “Is that still your position?” she persisted.
During the awkward exchange, with several lengthy pauses, McCain said he had no immediate knowledge of the vote. “I’ve cast thousands of votes in the Senate,” McCain said, then continued: “I will respond to—it’s a, it’s a…”
It's pretty sickening to watch the cast of "Morning Joe" laugh it up and fail to acknowledge that this is a pretty big stumble by McCain. Not only is his campaign sending mixed messages about a rather important issue to millions of Americans, the Senator is so clearly confused and caught in the headlights as he's called out on a blatant flip-flop.
Imagine if Barack Obama had been stumped like this. It would have been the story of the day, with the blaring headline: Obama Stumbles On Key Women's Issue; Will He Lose Their Support? Then talking head after talking head would be paraded on television to lecture seriously about Obama's "women problem" and whether or not this will doom his chances at winning them over.
But instead, McCain said it, and everyone has a laugh and moves on.
UPDATE: (Nicole) McCain hasn't spent a lot of time on these issues at all. In fact, as The Political Base recounts, last year he couldn't tell reporters if condoms stop STDs or if he supported Bush's abstinence-only education.
"I'm sure I've taken a position on it in the past," he stammered as he looked to his communications director. "I'm sure I'm opposed to government funding."
Sensing a vulnerable moment, reporters kept the questions coming. What about sex education in the schools? Should it mention contraceptives? Or only abstinence, like President Bush wants?
"I think I support the president's present policy," he said, tentatively.
More questions: Do condoms stop sexually transmitted disease?
A long pause.
A stern look.
"I've never gotten into these issues or thought much about them," he said.