TO: Interested Parties
FR: Bill Burton, Obama-Biden Campaign National Press Secretary
RE: John McCain’s plan to “whip” “That One’s” “you-know-what”
DA: October 15, 2008
In tonight’s debate, Chuck Todd of NBC News says, McCain needs to “figure out how to disqualify Barack Obama.” Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin writes, “McCain will have to produce a major memorable moment.” The NY Daily News says the debate is “do-or-die for McCain’s campaign.” However they put it, people agree, John McCain needs a game-changer.
On the big issues, this debate is one last chance for John McCain to do what he has failed to do throughout this entire campaign: explain to the American people how his economic policies would be any different at all than the failed Bush agenda he has supported every step of the way. It’s his last chance to somehow convince the American people that his erratic response to this economic crisis doesn’t disqualify him from being President.
Just this weekend, John McCain vowed to “whip Obama’s you-know-what” at the debate, and he’s indicated that he’ll use Bill Ayers to attack Barack Obama. Even though Senator McCain has said he doesn’t “give a damn” about Bill Ayers, his campaign has admitted that if he talks about the economy, he’ll lose.
But perhaps the NY Times explained the peril of McCain’s negative strategy best this morning when they wrote: After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking. [NYT/CBS Poll, NY Times 10/15/08]
Senator Obama is going to use the debate to discuss his plan for the economy. That’s what he’s been doing this entire campaign. And on Monday, he built on his proposals in a new Rescue Plan for the Middle Class. That’s the kind of steady leadership and real change Americans are looking for – not John McCain’s erratic handling of the crisis, his constant character attacks, and the same Bush policies that have failed us for eight years.
But after two debates in which John McCain didn’t mention the middle class once – and after his campaign declared openly that they want to turn the page on talking about the economy – the real question is not how many attacks McCain can land in the debate, but whether he can finally communicate a vision to turn this economy around.
And while McCain has promised to attack Obama in the debate, every minute that he ignores the economy and the middle class is not just a minute wasted but time spent on attacks that even some of those closest to him have said don’t work.