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Strategist Addresses Log Cabin Republicans

McCain's Top
Strategist Addresses Log Cabin Republicans


Senior McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt spoke to Log Cabin Republicans, calling them "an important part" of the Republican Party and sounding a personal note about his lesbian sister.

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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