Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, appeared on MSNBC the other day and was pressed by correspondent David Shuster to deny an allegation from the Obama camp that controversial ex-Senator Phil Gramm would be named Treasury Secretary in a McCain Administration.
Bounds called the allegation absurd but steadfastly avoided ruling it out.
A better technique might have been to say something along these lines:
Our opponents are trying to make mischief by inventing false stories like this. Senator McCain, in contrast, is focused on winning the election — not on making bogus predictions about the never-to-be Obama cabinet.
I can tell you this, however, David.
YOU have about as much of a chance of being named Treasury Secretary as some of the names the Obama campaign are tossing around.
If, come November, McCain wins and Gramm is nominated for Treasury, Bounds can always tell David Shuster that he was first runner-up.
The proposed answer above assumes that the candidate is unwilling to take the issue off the table now by simply saying: “No. Gramm will not be nominated for Treasury in my administration.”
While that answer would seem to settle the question — the downside is that it opens Pandora’s Box. Once you’ve answered that question…it is hard to duck follow-on questions: “Well, how about this person? Or that? If Gramm won’t be Treasury Secretary can you assure us he won’t be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors?” Generally, therefore, it is best to not to start answering those kinds of questions.