Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why This One's More Difficult

Last summer there were a number of bloggers (including myself) and political observers that saw a road forward for John McCain when times were bad.
Return to your principles. Continue being "The Maverick." Lose the campaign staff that's saying your campaign is finished. 
John McCain did what he needed to do and came from behind to win the New Hampshire Primary and the Republican nomination.

Now McCain is in a similar hole, but this time he's only got one week left to dig himself out. Are eleventh hour comebacks possible in general elections? Of course, simply look back to Bush in 2000, Reagan in 1980, or Nixon in 1968. What I see McCain lacking here is a platform from which to persuasively deliver his closing argument.

The debates are over (and seemed to benefit Obama), McCain has gone negative and tried with little success to go after Obama on Bill Ayers or ACORN (two things that I thought would and should have been given more media attention), and Obama's "redistribute the wealth" comments aren't scaring the living daylights out of voters like they would have happened eight or even four years ago.

It's that "closing argument," the final establishment of your campaign's tone, that can turn around an election. Judging by the courses of that Obama and McCain chose to take with their final tones, I'm ready to rule out any hope of a McCain comeback.

When Barack Obama was most successful in blowing past Hillary Clinton he pretended she didn't exist; he didn't reference her name in speeches, and he fast-forwarded us to a vision of the country with him as the nominee. Clinton, on the other hand, tried to draw distinctions between herself and Obama. The issues Hillary focused on were important ones, but her strategy was doomed to look lackluster compared to Obama's "it's about me" course.

Now Obama is doing the same thing. As John McCain has been repeatedly talking about Obama's "redistribute the wealth" vs. his own "create wealth," Obama has merely returned to talking about the "change" that an Obama victory would bring.

Not bothered by money, ahead in the polls, and with more and more early votes being cast for him, Obama is well on his way to walking off with a win.

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