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Sebelius Watch

DES MOINES - Visiting a friend in Iowa on my way out to Denver, I saw Kathleen Sebelius give an up-with-Obama speech this afternoon to a women's brown-bag luncheon at a Masonic Temple here. We'll know for sure any moment, but I'd guess Sebelius's downbeat manner and lack of sync with the Obama mothership's message of the day indicate she's not "the guy," as it were. (When a shy woman in a white suit asked her, "How does it feel to be vetted?", Sebelius shot back, "Nobody said I was being vetted," a bit too fast for it to be a joke.)

Which is probably for the best. I've argued for Sebelius over Tim Kaine in this space, but seeing her in person highlighted her downside. Rumors that she's boring are greatly exaggerated, but it's more that her style -- reliant on dry, mordant offhand jokes -- actually more mirrors McCain's than Obama's. Their divergent styles would make an odd match. She's a good surrogate, wringing a number of laughs out of the audience over experiences they shared as women (namely, often being smarter than the men around them in various ways), but there just weren't enough common rhetorical notes with Obama there. 

Also, I'm not sure whether this suggests that Sebelius doesn't like going in for the kill or that the Obama campaign's hard push on the McCain-houses gaffe today was meant as much for the Washington press (look: we can fight!) as for people outside of Washington, but Team Obama billed Sebelius's luncheon as one of the day's many events "discuss[ing] McCain losing track of how many homes he owns," and yet she didn't mention McCain's gaffe, not once.

--Eve Fairbanks