If there's one person in the NBC news stable who combines solid analytical skills with a commitment to fairness, it could be political director Chuck Todd. Evidence thereof comes from no less a certified conservative source than Tom DeLay. Appearing on this evening's Hardball just after Todd had offered his breakdown of the electoral map, DeLay allowed that he "can't dispute" any of Todd's analysis, prompting Chris Matthews to exclaim "that's a development for us here: objective truth for you!"
So what was that Todd analysis that DeLay didn't dispute? There was much to it, but for present purposes let's focus on this: Todd can't see how Obama wins without Pennsylvania, and that having former governor Tom Ridge on the McCain ticket would help deliver the Keystone State. The catch is that Ridge is pro-choice, which in turn poses the question of whether pro-life Republicans would revolt if McCain chose him for the veep slot.
View video here.
You'll find the transcript below. I'd be particularly interested in getting the take of pro-life readers. I offer my own two cents at the foot.
CHUCK TODD: I tell you, I think [McCain] wishes he could think about Tom Ridge. I think the fact that Ridge is pro-choice has to throw him off a little bit. I tell ya: if you took Pennsylvania off the map for Obama, and you put it in the McCain column, I challenge you to get to 270 for Obama—it's tough.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Ridge is very popular in Pennsylvania. I think he would deliver Pennsylvania for him, it would be very close. But then he may even help in Ohio and he may help in Michigan, but I don't know if that's worth taking on the Christian right on the abortion issue.
TODD: They would all sit there and say to McCain "see, we told you so. We told you McCain didn't care about our issues. He didn't care so much he picked a pro-choice running mate." It makes it tough.
MATTHEWS: And I'm not sure Cheney would endorse him at that point. I think it would get really tough, anyway, I think Cheney doesn't like Tom Ridge too much.
TODD: Well, I don't know.
. . .
TOM DELAY: What's interesting, I can't dispute anything that you've shown here.
MATTHEWS: That's a development for us: objective truth here for ya!
So, would pro-life Republicans revolt—or sit still—for a Ridge VP nomination if convinced he would make the difference between winning and losing?
My two cents: My guess is that while pro-life Republicans wouldn't be happy, they wouldn't stage an all-out revolt. Ridge—Vietnam veteran and former Homeland Security director—has a traditional vibe. I imagine he would commit to nominating, should the situation ever arise, strict constructionist Supreme Court justices in the Alito/Roberts mold. Ridge might be pro-choice, but Christie Todd Whitman he's not.
Note: For the record, McCain has discounted the likelihood he'd pick Ridge, in light of the latter's pro-choice views. I noted this exchange between McCain and Matthews back in April here:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Would you put a person on the ticket with you like the former governor of this state, who is very popular, Tom Ridge, even though he may disagree -- even though he may disagree with you on the issue of Roe v. Wade and abortion rights? Would you put somebody on the ticket like that, on that one issue would it stop him?
JOHN MCCAIN: I don't know if it would stop him but it would be difficult.
MATTHEWS: Why is there that one litmus test that's an issue?
MCCAIN: I'm not saying that would be necessarily but I am saying that it's basically the respect and cherishing of the right of the unborn is one of the fundamental principles of my party. And it's a -- a deeply held, deeply held belief of mine.