McCain's Top
Strategist Addresses Log Cabin Republicans

McCain's Top
            Strategist Addresses Log Cabin Republicans

In what
represents a marked shift from the Republican campaign
rhetoric of 2004 -- where some George W. Bush advisors
stoked anti-gay sentiment in an attempt to drive
social conservatives to the polls -- Steve Schmidt,
senior campaign strategist for the McCain campaign, stopped
by a Log Cabin Republican luncheon Thursday to welcome
the group to the convention.

“I just
wanted to take a second to come by and pay my respect and
the campaign’s respect to your organization and
to your group,” said Schmidt, who many view as
the new architect of the Republican Party. “Your
organization is an important one in the fabric of our
party.”

In his brief
remarks, Schmidt weaved in a personal anecdote about his
lesbian sister and her relationship to him, his wife, and
his children. “On a personal level, my sister
and her partner are an important part of my life and
our children’s life,” he said. “I
admire your group and your organization and I
encourage you to keep fighting for what you believe in
because the day is going to come.”

This convention
marks the first in history that Log Cabin Republicans, an
LGBT rights organization, have been fully credentialed
official guests of the GOP host committee, and Schmidt
is not the only high-profile party figure to address
the group. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, RNC
treasurer Tim Morgan, and McCain political director Mike
DuHaime – the first hire made by Schmidt after
he took the helm in July – have all spoken at
Log Cabin events this week.

That Republican
Party leaders are reaching out to Log Cabin members is
another sign that neither side of this pitched battle for
the presidency wants to concede a single vote.
Michelle Obama, after stumping at the LGBT delegate
luncheon during the Democratic convention last week, spoke
just last night to about 300 donors at an LGBT
reception in Los Angeles.

For his part,
Schmidt didn’t miss the opportunity to throw a few
zingers at Democrats using the backdrop of vice
presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin’s well
regarded acceptance speech Wednesday night.

“You saw
one of the great speeches in the history of political
conventions last night by an accomplished governor of a
state who has just announced herself as a major force
in the Republican Party in her own right, and I think
the other side this morning, when you consider the
backlash that is likely to occur after all the vile filth
that’s been thrown at her, they ought to be
sitting on the other side saying, Oh -- My --
God,” Schmidt said to the cheers of some 50
attendees. “I’ve been in some tough
political fights in my career, and I will just tell you
that over the last 48 hours, the smearing and the defamation
of this family is unlike anything I have ever
seen.”

Republicans have
responded to news reports of Gov. Palin’s family
life, such as her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, with
awe and indignation. To the extent that personal
details of Gov. Palin’s family life continue to
make headlines and swing voters begin taking sides, some
Republicans see that as a net plus in the election.

“The more
CNN and The New York Times keep beating up on
her, the better,” said one Log Cabin Republican who
spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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