Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008 | 3:48 p.m.
Sen. Barack Obama's campaign, with the help of Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, unveiled its second ad on Yucca Mountain today.
Again, the ad takes as its premise that Sen. John McCain is comfortable with storing nuclear waste in Nevada -- but not with it traveling through his home state of Arizona. The ad references an interview McCain did on Northern Nevada's "Newsmakers" program last year.
As Sun columnist Jon Ralston pointed out to his e-mail subscribers:
"The Arizona senator clearly misunderstood the question and made it sound as if he would not be comfortable with waste going through his home state when I am sure he meant the opposite."
The interview is here. (The money quote comes at 1:20).
Asked about the apparent distortion, Berkley said, "That’s nonsense. I haven't seen the senator retract his comments. And if they didn’t use that statement they’d still have plenty of ammunition. We have a wonderful alternative to that Neanderthal thinking. Senator Obama says no way (to Yucca). I think that’s worth at least two commercials."
Earlier in the call she dubbed McCain "the original Yucca Mountain Johnny," referencing the Department of Energy's mascot for the project.
Asked why the campaign is focusing on an issue that Democrats and Republicans alike say isn't a deciding one (Bush, a Yucca supporter, won Nevada twice), Berkley said the effort served to illustrate the differences between Obama and McCain.
-- Berkley also took a swipe at McCain and his campaign for branding Obama an "elitist."
"When I hear the word elitist linked with Barack Obama, that is a code word for uppity," she said. "I find it extremely offensive and John McCain should know better. And until this election he handled himself in a far more enlightened way. I find it offensive. And I believe a lot of Americans do too. They’re not using 'elitist' by accident. It’s a code word for uppity black man."
Pressed by Kathleen Hennessy of the Associated Press, who noted that Bush used the same attack against John Kerry in 2004, Berkley demurred, saying, "We've got the Republican playbook and I'm banking on the intelligence of the American people to discard that playbook."
Her favorite for Obama's veep? Sen. Joe Biden.
-- A new poll by the Reno Gazette-Journal/KTVN Channel 2 released today has the presidential race tied in Nevada. Obama and McCain have essentially equal standing (favorability) among the state's voters.
Anjeanette Damon of the RGJ has some key findings on her blog:
"Of those surveyed, 51 percent had a favorable view and 44 percent had an unfavorable view of McCain, while 52 percent had a favorable and 40 percent had an unfavorable view of Obama.
"And as Washoe County Democrats have been saying for months now, Northern Nevada could tip the balance in the race, where it is a veritable tie. McCain has a 1-point lead in Washoe County. Obama is leading by 7 points in Clark County.
"The results indicate that McCain's full-on television assault over the past month has done little to erode Obama's standing. However, it's also relevant to point out Obama visited the state a day before the survey began."
-- Democrat Dina Titus, who's challenging Republican Rep. Jon Porter in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, is featured in a Wall Street Journal piece on Democrats and offshore drilling.
--Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean visited UNLV yesterday to rally students as part of his "Register to Change" tour.
Dean noted that Democrats had identified 16,000 people who moved to Nevada within the last year but had yet to register to vote. He talked about how Obama's campaign was furthering his "50-state strategy" to make Democrats more competitive. Obama calls his approach the "neighborhood leadership program."
The R-J's Molly Ball has the details:
"It involves canvassers not merely making an impersonal stop to drop off a pamphlet, but connecting individually with 30 or 40 people and then returning to them three or four times.
-- Sen. Harry Reid talked to R-J staffers, saying he refuses to strip independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, a McCain supporter, of his Senate positions for accepting a speaking role at the Republican National Convention. Reid also talked up Biden.
-- The Washington Post says Obama's campaign will call next week for the creation of a commission to revise the presidential selection process in 2012, with the goal of reducing the power of superdelegates.
Also at issue is the nominating calendar itself. Nevada's early caucus isn't mentioned.