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Shields and Brooks on RNC Lineup and the Bush Factor

As the Republican National Convention resumes with its first full night of prime-time speakers, analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks assess the Sen. John McCain's vice presidential pick, the speeches ahead and the issues at play within the Republican party.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now we're going to get some final thoughts from Shields and Brooks.

    Mark, we've got Joe Lieberman, Fred Thompson, that's in the hall, main speakers coming tonight. And then, by satellite, we have President Bush.

    Now, my understanding, just looking at everything, is that their main topic is going to be John McCain. Is that what you understand, as well?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Yes, it is, Jim. These are character witnesses for John McCain. Fred Thompson endorsed John McCain in 2000 and ran against him in 2008, but was key to John McCain's nomination by remaining in the race in the South Carolina primary, where he took enough conservative, Southern votes away from Mike Huckabee, who was John McCain's principal challenger, to enable John McCain to win that crucial primary.

    So this is a recognition of Fred's TV power, his past friendship, and probably a debt of political gratitude.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, David, you've said sometime in the last seven or eight years, I'm sure, but that Joe Lieberman was really on the shortest of John McCain's short list. He really did want to pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Why and, then finally, why not? And what part does he play in this whole operation now?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Jim, I've said everything at some point in the last seven or eight years.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Well, I know. I know.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    John McCain is the sort of guy who likes surrounding himself with people he admires. He admires people who buck their parties. And Joe Lieberman has certainly bucked his party.

    And so he wanted Joe Lieberman. And I think he didn't choose him because five of the delegations here would not have walked out, but they would have put up rival slates, which would have made the convention really a mess. And so he didn't pick him for that reason, but nonetheless…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    That was because of the choice issue, right, because of the abortion issue more than anything else?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    You know, I spoke to a Democratic senator yesterday. Democratic senators genuinely like Joe Lieberman because he's with them on every issue except foreign affairs. And he's still at his heart a liberal Democrat on all domestic issues, including the social issues. So that's why he didn't choose him.

    But what he'll talk about today is the surge. You know, tonight, we're going to have a whole litany of John McCain courage moments. And there's going to be a lot of POW moments, but also the surge, a subject that really wasn't talked about in the Democratic convention.

    But Joe Lieberman will talk about McCain's putting his career on the line in support of the surge to make life a little better in Iraq and turn things around in Iraq.

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