McCain and the Hillary Strategy

Hillary Clinton must be feeling John McCain's pain. For months and months she battled against Obamamania -- the lofty rhetoric, the swooning girls, the giant crowds and the massive turnout of young people. She tried to mock and belittle his language. (Who can forget the cringe-inducing "Change you can Xerox"?) She tried to raise doubts with the " 3 a.m." ad about Barack Obama's readiness to serve as commander in chief. But in the end she lost. Now McCain is trying his hand, using some of the very same arguments.

His Celebrity ad and a subsequent one dubbed the "Fan Club" go straight at Obama's mass-movement popularity. His message, not unlike Clinton's, is clear: Obama is very cool but he is not presidential material. And he goes one step further: that Obama's "celebrity" status has rendered him clueless to the concerns (e.g., $4 gas) of average Americans.

And on the 3 a.m. front, McCain has made the most of international developments -- the success of the surge and his own warnings about Vladimir Putin's imperialistic ambitions -- to make the argument that his opponent lacks the experience and judgment to lead in dangerous times. McCain's polling numbers show that he leads Obama by a considerable margin on Iraq, national security and the war on terror.

Still, McCain trails in the national polls, albeit narrowly. And it is worth asking whether the very themes that Clinton used can be successfully recycled by McCain in the general election. McCain holds out hope on several fronts.

by Jennifer Rubin
New York Observer


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