Becker Blog

The world according to Brian Becker

McCain’s Schizophrenic Campaign

Posted by Brian Becker on September 25, 2008

So the big news yesterday was the news that John McCain would be suspending his campaign for the time being to go back to Washington and help work on the bailout bill. He also said that he thinks the debate on Friday should be postponed if there is no deal made by then, while calling on Obama to join him in Washington to help deal with the crisis.

My initial reaction was that this was a clever tactic by the McCain campaign. On the one hand, if Obama accepted to postpone the debate, and instead go to Washington, it might make McCain appear to be a leader in a time of great uncertainty. On the other hand, if he didn’t accept, McCain would attack Obama as putting himself before country. You know, country first! Lo and behold, minutes after the announcement I saw McCain surrogates hitting the airwaves stating just exactly that. It also has the added benefit of burying the story about McCain’s campaign manager’s ties to Freddie Mac.

Now, though, after a little thought, I think this will ultimately end up hurting McCain. First of all, it came out late last night that congress was ready to pass the bailout, before McCain even arrived in Washington. So there goes taking the credit for the bailout. Second, Obama didn’t take the bait. A few hours after McCain’s announcement, Obama came out with a statement saying he will return to Washington if needed, but that he still intends to be at the debate Friday night, and he will not be suspending his campaign. “Presidents have to be able to do more than one thing at once.” he said. A simple message, yet extremely powerful.

Ultimately McCain’s campaign has a major problem on its hands in that he just does not come off as presidential in this crisis. Instead, he comes off as paniced, and since this crisis made its way into the race last week McCain’s campaign has had a schizophrenic message. A week ago he had his Herbert Hoover moment when he declared the economy was still fundamentally strong, then a few hours later claims the economy is in danger. Earlier this week he said we are not heading for another Great Depression, and today Sarah Palin said we might be. Today McCain says hes suspending his campaign, then sends out talking points to surrogates and films an interview with Katie Couric. Whats going on here? This is the time where the candidates can really show what kind of leadership they can bring to the White House but McCain is out of his element. Meanwhile, Obama is very calm, collected, and cautious. The economy is his comfort zone, but people pick up on these things and I think people are finally starting to see the pattern.

There is also zero chance of McCain recovering if he skips out on the debate Friday night. No matter how they try to spin it, McCain will appear cowardly. They can say “Country First” all they want but nobody is going to buy it anymore if he doesn’t show up. There is no reason he can’t be in Washington Friday afternoon and fly to Mississippi that evening for the debate. Not going would certainly lose him the election.

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One Response to “McCain’s Schizophrenic Campaign”

  1. expatforobama said

    I agree, schizophrenia is poison to a campaign. If he dodges this debate, I agree, there’s no way to spin it. Plus he has effectively set up the media as adversaries (for some reason I’m still trying to figure out) when they used to be his key constituency. What”s are they up to (McCain and McCain and McCain…)??

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