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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Early Morning WARNING: McCain Campaign Reboot could be Imminent

Quick diary to alert everyone that McCain might well take another impetuous maverick move before the debate on Wednesday.

The balloon has been hoisted up by Bill Kristol in today’s New York Times:

It’s time for John McCain to fire his campaign.

He has nothing to lose. His campaign is totally overmatched by Obama’s. The Obama team is well organized, flush with resources, and the candidate and the campaign are in sync. The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional. Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic. If the race continues over the next three weeks to be a conventional one, McCain is doomed.


Over at Fivethirtyeight Nate Silver has been reading the runes…

He notes how the Drudge report has been desperately trying to headline minor variations in McCain’s losing edge as a new ‘momentum’ and comes up with the following prognostication:

The McCain campaign is planning on a major “reboot” of its campaign in some point in advance of Wednesday night’s debate.


What the McCain campaign really, really doesn’t want is for this move to be portrayed as desperate stunt.


The only way for McCain to do that is for him to convince the media that he already had the momentum. The campaign will probably try and claim the moral highground, perhaps contrasting McCain’s repudiation of the woman who called Obama an “Arab” on Friday against John Lewis’s comments from Saturday. They will suggest that McCain found his voice, and made the “maverick” move of telling off the Beltway Republicans who were urging him to go for blood.


It won’t be an easy spin war for them to win. But they’d seem to have little left to lose, and if the media is reminded of the “old” McCain, they may tend to give his narrative the benefit of the doubt.

Forewarned is forearmed. How to we frame this new spin before it happens?

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  1. like Nate Silver wrote, that this kind of dramatic reboot has the danger of blowing up in his face as another erratic zag to the negative zig of the past two weeks.  He fires up the base with this “Obama’s a cipher, and a dangerous one at that” rhetoric–to the point where the level of bile at rallies becomes a media story–and then suddenly unveils a kinder, gentler McCain?  I can’t see how this kind of lurching all over the place helps the message he needs in the, oh, two weeks remaining.

    What’s funny is that if McCain had done this months ago, or never hired Schmidt and the rest of the Rovian cronies and decided to play in the gutter, he might not be in such desperate straits.  All that shit just undermined the “I’m a maverick, outsider, new kind of politician, the anti-Bush” shtick that might have made him an attractive alternative in the midst of the financial crisis.  You know, steady hand at the tiller, more experience than the green Obama, sterling outsider and Bush-opposer credentials (at least pre-2000) . . . but instead when the crisis dropped he was stuck with a campaign he’d made bitter, negative, Rovian, Hannity-esque, tawdry.

    Another lurch toward ‘honorable McCain’ is just gonna piss off his real base for “abandoning the attack.”

  2. GrassrootsOrganizer

    and it’s a long shot at that — to get even meaner and madder — take the whole crazy zag he’s on all the way to Alert Level Red.  Anything else will look even douchier.  

    I really hope he doesn’t do that by the way.  

  3. rfahey22

    to escape the “campaign in disarray” meme.  When has it ever looked good for a candidate down by 6-10 points, with three weeks to go, to suddenly “reboot” their campaign?  He might get a few more point based on sympathy, were he to make his campaign more dignified, but that would be it.

    Anyway, Open Left has snippets of his prepared remarks.  He’s now trying to scare people with the prospect of Democrats controlling the legislative and executive branches, as opposed to trying to scare them with Ayers last week.  That doesn’t seem like a huge shift to me.

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