Sunday Morning Political Chat Roundup

The Sunday politics shows today centered on questions about the role of race in the campaign, Barack Obama's position on oil drilling, and the possibility of a balanced budget now that the deficit has reached more than $400 billion.

The McCain press office is spotlighting Tom Ridge's criticism of Obama on ABC's "This Week."

"You know every once in a while, we see [Barack Obama] playing basketball," Ridge said in a quote the McCain camp highlighted in a release. "And he's obviously a pretty good athlete. And probably has a pretty good head fake. So the head fake is 'well I'll deal with a compromise' but later on depending on the audience too, he's saying 'I don't favor drilling.'"

Ridge was referring to Obama's apparent willingness to allow for some offshore drilling under tightly controlled circumstances, despite his opposition to drilling in the past. He said last week he would be open to drilling "as part of a plan promoting fuel-efficient cars and developing alternate energy sources," as the Associated Press reports.

Sen. John Kerry addressed the issue on NBC's "Meet The Press," arguing that while Obama opposes drilling, he wants to "break America's gridlock by honoring a bipartisan effort, if that is the only way to move us towards alternative and renewable fuels and an energy policy that's comprehensive."

Obama advisor Robert Rubin also took on the issue on CBS' "Face The Nation," saying that "...if it means doing something that he has a lot of reservations about in order to accomplish something much larger that's constructive, then that's the way a legislative process should work, in a democracy."

On "This Week," meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will not allow a stand-alone vote on drilling, since it is a "decoy" as opposed to a solution, though she signaled openness to a vote on a "larger energy package" that included offshore drilling provisions.

As Mark Halperin notes, Sen. Lindsay Graham took up the debate about race in the campaign on "Fox News Sunday," saying McCain "doesn't have a racist bone in his body." The McCain campaign has accused Obama of playing the race card with recent comments about how his opponents are trying to scare voters because he doesn't look like other presidents on the dollar bill; McCain supporter Joe Lieberman said on "Meet The Press" that the comments were "a personal insult to John McCain." Tom Daschle said on "Fox News Sunday" that Obama was not accusing McCain of racism, just discussing his political approach.

On "Face The Nation," meanwhile, talk turned to the possibility of eliminating the budget deficit. McCain advisor Carly Fiorina said McCain could balance the budget by 2013 by growing the economy and getting government spending under control. She also addressed McCain's comment that "there is nothing that's off the table" when asked about an increase in payroll taxes last week. McCain has pledged not to raise taxes.

"John McCain has been very explicit in saying he does not support an increase in payroll taxes, particularly because they impact small businesses and sole proprietorships more greatly than any other part of our economy," Fiorina said. "His record is very clear on that, and he has a number of economists who support his assertion, that we can solve the Social Security and Medicare crisis - but particularly Social Security - without raising payroll taxes."