Monday, September 15, 2008


John McCain's Learning Curve from 2000

Posted by Isaac Bickerstaff.

The interesting part of this election is not the slogan of the week or the fundraising numbers. The most interesting issue is how much John McCain has learned from his 2000 Presidential run.

McCain was running as the candidate of change, eschewing the Religious Right as agents of intolerance, thumbing his nose at the Conservative establishment, and had his merry band of press pranksters ala Ken Kesey on the Straight Talk Express. He shot from the hip, spoke with unbelievable candor, and soundly got his clock cleaned in South Carolina by a whisper campaign and a few dirty tricks that derailed him and sent his campaign packing.

John McCain has learned from those lessons. He watched as campaigns either imploded or did not start in his own party's primary. The greatest thing he has done is employ tactics that may tarnish his 2000 reputation but could handily win him the White House. He has populated his campaign with Bush/Cheney/Rove campaign staff who now how to hit hard and fast and divert attention from the issues. Lipstick on a Pig sexism. a 26 year outsider in Washington. It was with amazement that a Democratic Senator told me that John McCain spoke at the convention like Barack Obama was the incumbent and McCain was the challenger to the past 8 years.

One could almost hear the gasps of the Washington Establishment combined with the sheer amazement of the Upper East Side elites at the picking of Sarah Palin. A mother with a pregnant daughter who graduated from the University Of Idaho. Absolutely unthinkable. I was actually told that if she at least went to a better school it would have prepared her -- for what, I do not know. Does Harvard and Yale truly treat you to a better view of America? Judging by my family that matriculated from such fine institutions, the answer is no. But many in what are called the fly-over states can relate to her and her family.

I am not certain if all of these machinations will yield a victory for McCain. Colorado and Virginia are running very strong Democratic Senate Candidates. In Virginia, Mark Warner leads by 30-35% in almost every poll. In Colorado, the Republican Party has funding issues. The Colorado Springs Republican Party has laid off staff and is purportedly out of money. Not exactly a rosy picture for GOTV.

Obama has also raised an outstanding $66 million in August and his numbers in CA, OH, and PA are good to fair in descending order. Can the Obama team return the questioning to judgment, the economy, and who relates to better to your needs? He does exceedingly well in polls that ask who you trust in leading the economy and who relates best to needs and priorities. The Wall Street crisis will probably be a win for Obama.

Bickerstaff thinks that the Debate will be the poll break. That is when most voters will focus.

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