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McCain’s performance as turning point?

Well, the presidential campaign entered a new stage tonight at the Saddleback Forum. Rick Warren played an effective host to the two candidates, and what we saw was the campaign we thought we would get from the outset. It is going to be a tough one for Obama…

Some observations: McCain has demonstrated why he is so effective at town meetings and formats that are not “staged” and why reporters loved riding on the “Straight Talk Express” bus in New Hampshire and getting “straight” answers. That is the McCain that came out this evening. Yes, solicitous and pandering to host and audience; yes, a tendency to subtle forms of braggadocio about his life experiences. And the true Reaganite, anti-government conservatism really comes through in the content of his answers. For all that potentially negative content, it was an impressive performance.

Obama, on the other hand, treated it as if he was back talking to Charlie Rose across the round table. Good for that context when you are selling your book, but certainly did not come off as strongly as McCain did politically. He needs to adapt his style to campaign mode!

(1) Based on this performance McCain gets traction for the coming week until the end of the Democratic Convention and pulls ahead in the polls — perhaps substantially.

(2) Obama will get bump during convention week, but they need to rethink their approach. Dealing with racism, Clintonism, etc is one thing — but dealing with a reinvigorated “straight talk”, Reagan-like McCain is another.

(3) If they’re smart, the McCain campaign realizes what just happened and shifts back to a campaign that relies less on the TV ad spots and attacks (the “Rick Davis” approach) and goes for more formats like the one Warren provided this evening.

Going to be interesting to watch from a political science point of view. I personally am not looking forward to a replay of the Reagan years or the Cold War, but after tonight the chances of that are looking stronger than before McCain’s performance.

August 16th, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments