Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McCain plays valiant underdog as once-loyal south looks uncertain.

McCain says that he's giving the public "straight talk". He claims that his campaign is six points behind (that's generous, some polls put him ten points behind) and that Obama is "measuring the drapes" and the press are writing him off, but he states, "We've got them just where we want them".

That's an extraordinary claim in a campaign defined by so many extraordinary claims and, yes, outright lies. Does McCain want us to believe that he is where he is because of some cunning plan? That he is nurturing his position as underdog merely so that he can spring some trap when we least expect it?

Or is he, as I suspect, saying this as a way of keeping the wingnuts who still attend his campaign speeches from deserting him in droves?

Because, if his present position is where he has tactically chosen to find himself, if this really is where he wants to be, then he's fighting the strangest campaign in American political history.

A Washington Post/ABC national poll yesterday put Obama on 53% to McCain's 43%. In a survey of scores of Republican strategists conducted by the National Journal over the weekend, 80% said they expected Obama to win, compared with only 17% three weeks ago.
And McCain's false confidence was undermined by the very place in which he was campaigning:

Yesterday was only McCain's second appearance in Virginia, a reflection of his confidence that the state was secure. But, as McCain himself acknowledged yesterday, even Virginia - which voted Republican for the past 10 presidential elections - was in danger of slipping away.

But the Democrats are advancing not only in Virginia, but in North Carolina. McCain has now been overtaken in the state, which he visited later yesterday.

The truth is that Obama is now making inroads deep into Republican territory and McCain, by the very places he was defending yesterday, is being forced to play defence in areas where he never thought that possible.

However, the size of Obama's task in these states was made clear by some of the comments from the electorate:

"I'm scared of Obama - from what I have read and his associations which are questionable, his so-called terrorist associations, and even his church," said Lori Raynor, a biochemist. "I just don't think he can run this country." She added: "Some of my friends have even told me they think he is the anti-Christ."

Others remained convinced that Obama was a Muslim, even while criticising his choice of church for the past 20 years. "I believe he has had a Muslim upbringing, but his wife is a Christian," said Scott Wallace, a physician's assistant.

Trying to win over people who believe in the concept of the anti-Christ is never going to be easy. However, leaving that aside, it's simply ludicrous for McCain to claim that he is currently exactly where he wants to be.

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