(BENSALEM, PA.) - Few things are trickier to navigate in presidential politics than World Series baseball, especially when the two teams are from swing states that both candidates need to win.
A year ago, Rudy Giuliani was ridiculed for trying to claim he was an "American League fan" when the former mayor of New York City rooted for the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 playoffs (Rudy, as you may recall, did not win the Republican nomination, nor did he win the New Hampshire primary).
This time around, the candidates are confronted by one team from Florida – the Tampa Bay Rays – and another from Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Phillies. "I heard, maybe you did too, that Sen. Obama was showing some love to the Rays down in Tampa Bay yesterday," McCain said at his rally here in the Philadelphia suburbs here today, which elicited a loud chorus of boos from the crowd.
"Now, I'm not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between swing states, but I think I may have detected a little pattern with Sen. Obama. It's pretty simple really. When he's campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he's campaigning in Tampa Bay, he shows love to the Rays. It's kind of like the way he campaigns on tax cuts, but then votes for tax increases after he's elected."
Obama was endorsed by several members of the Rays yesterday, and while he said he was a Chicago White Sox fan said only "showing love" to the Rays, he also said he would root for the Phillies in the Series because his campaign manager David Plouffe is a die-hard Phillies fan.
"I guess these are the kinds of attacks you make when your campaign has conceded that if you talk about the economy, you'll lose," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. "Sen. Obama said he's rooting for the Phillies. Yesterday he said nice things about the members of the team who came out to support him, but that doesn't change the fact that Tampa Bay bounced his White Sox out of the playoffs."
McCain, for the record, is an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, and has yet to try and parlay that into being a "National League fan" to root for the Phillies. But he needs to win Pennsylvania, and there are still two weeks left before Election Day, so there's plenty of time left to start "showing some love" to the Phillies.