Who is she? Who is the carefully groomed and scripted Debra Bartoshevich in McCain's new ad "Debra"?
Is she a lifelong Democrat, a Hillary backer who switched to McCain because Obama lacks "experience"? That is what she and her PUMA admirers claim. But the YouTube video at the top of this post, an unscripted interview with a local reporter, tells a far different story. What lifelong Democrat says, as she does repeatedly, "Democrat party"? And why was the McCain team already so poised to recruit her that she got a phone call from them "approximately three minutes" after Hillary Clinton's June 5 concession speech?
Her strange journey to center stage of McCain's Democrat-switcher campaign began long before that campaign gleefully leaked to reporters their coup in persuading one of Wisconsin's Hillary Clinton delegates to pledge publicly she would vote for John McCain. Read on below the fold!
Debra Bartoshevich (hereafter DB) is a 41-year-old emergency room nurse from Waterford, Wisconsin. She was elected a Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention after making a speech to the Wisconsin Democrats' caucus in early May where she praised -- not Clinton's experience, but her support of healthcare: “I support her because of her universal health care plan,” she said in a speech before the votes were cast. “I see the devastating consequences of diseases on the uninsured.”
About one month later, however, DB says (in her YouTube interview for a local TV station) she got a phone call from a very concerned and supportive man from the McCain campaign, "approximately three minutes" after Hillary Clinton's June 5 concession speech. And soon after that, “Citizens for McCain” was calling reporters to crow that one of the pledged McCain voters named on their website was an official Democratic convention delegate. On Friday, June 13, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel's website broke the news, stunning local Democrats who had heard no warning of DB's public defection.
How did this happen? Several different accounts have appeared in the news. She told the Journal Sentinel that her sister had "encouraged" her to sign up as a supporter with “Citizens for McCain,” adding that it was the McCain campaign, not DB herself, who then notified a reporter. To an AP reporter, DB elaborated that her sister was an Iraq veteran and a McCain supporter. The July 25 Journal Sentinel reported that DB told Wisconsin Democrats that she had not in fact put her own name on the Citizens for McCain website -- it was her McCain-supporting sister who put the name there.
Blogger Kay of BlueRacine.blogspot.com is a Hillary Clinton supporter who laments that she herself recruited DB to come to the caucus and advised her on getting selected as a delegate. In a June 15 comment to Blogging Blue, she defends DB's defection as the result of "pressure" from her sister who (Kay claims) gave DB's info "info to the Lieberman for McCain subunit of McCain’s party and got her to talk to them." In a later blogpost, Kay goes so far as to claim that DB's sister is not just supporting McCain but "working in his DC campaign." I don't know any other substantiation for these claims, however.
I can't help wondering, though, why a self-proclaimed "lifelong Democrat" would repeatedly and spontaneously use the right-wing Republican code phrase "Democrat party" -- why she describes herself as "voting Democrat" in the past or calls Barack Obama "the Democrat candidate". No lifelong Democrats I know use that kind of jargon.
Why does her unscripted talk with the reporter contain so little pro-McCain (or pro-Hillary) but so many Republican talking points against Obama? And why was the McCain team already so poised to recruit her -- and so well-informed about where they could reach her -- that she got a phone call from them "approximately three minutes" after Hillary Clinton's June 5 speech suspending her campaign for the presidency.
According to the August 25 Wall Street Journal, "A spokesman for McCain said the ad will run in Denver markets this week during the Democratic convention, as well as in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and national cable as part of their rotation."
By the way, there are currently 805 Google News results for "Debra Bartoshevich". You can also find information about this story by searching for "Deb Bartoschevich" and with variants on her last name "Bartosevich", "Bartoschevitch", and perhaps more besides.