That coveted Dick Cheney endorsement

Barack Obama and his aides mock John McCain for getting praise from the vice president.

By Mike Madden

Published November 1, 2008 9:47PM (EDT)

PUEBLO, Colo. -- The best thing that happened to Barack Obama Saturday, if you listened to him and his aides, was that John McCain picked up a key endorsement.

From Dick Cheney.

The vice president, who may still be a scary costume on future Halloweens even once he leaves office, told a Wyoming Republican event Saturday that he was "delighted" to support McCain and Sarah Palin. "I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Senator John McCain," Cheney said.

That was music to the ears of Obama's press staff in Chicago, since Cheney is probably the one politician in America who's even less popular than George W. Bush. "Today, Dick Cheney offered his unequivocal support for John McCain and Sarah Palin," spokesman Hari Sevugan e-mailed reporters. ("We are the only ones who announced the endorsement," another aide, Nick Shapiro, joked to Salon.)

And by the time Obama made his way here to Pueblo's historic downtown for his second campaign stop of the day, he'd picked up the theme himself.

"President Bush is sitting out the last few days before the election. But earlier today, Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location and hit the campaign trail," Obama said. "I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it. That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it."

Cheney's name drew boos from the crowd, which cued Obama for what's become a standard line in the last week. "You don't have to boo," he said. "Just vote!"

The McCain campaign wasn't amused by the Cheney hoopla. "Barack Obama and Dick Cheney aren't just cousins, they’ve shared support for the Bush energy policy and the out-of-control spending that John McCain has fought to oppose," spokesman Tucker Bounds e-mailed reporters. (The e-mail included a handy fact sheet, citing an Obama speech in Iowa in January as the source to note Obama and Cheney's distant family ties.) Apparently the idea was to persuade voters that Cheney and Obama have more in common than Cheney and McCain. Chances are that one will fly about as well as the caged game birds Cheney likes to shoot.

Check out Cheney's remarks here:

Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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