Which Way

19Sep08

In a pivotal electoral moment, the candidates are jostling to gain advantage from the world financial crisis.

The emergency may become the ‘September Surprise’ that completely changed the course of the 2008 race. Supporters of Mr Obama hope it will spur Americans to blame incumbent Republicans for the mess and turn their backs on John McCain. It is equally possible, however, that this moment of deep uncertainty may discourage them from voting for Mr Obama whom they may regard as too inexperienced.

McCain got off to a bad start this week, as his campaign showed obvious confusion – sending out confusing, mixed messages. Barack, in turn, responded with confidence and hard attacks on McCain, seizing the moment to get the campaign narrative back on the economy. It took three days for McCain to settle on a line of attack.

“My friends, this is the problem in Washington. People like Sen. Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven’t ever done a thing to actually challenge the system. That’s not country first, that’s Obama first.”

Two can play the game of identifying campaign insiders who are symbolic of insiderism, and McCain took the opportunity to hit Obama.

McCain once again drew the connection between Obama and two former CEO’s of Fannie Mae, Fred Raines and Jim Johnson. McCain argued that Raines was an advisor to his opponent’s campaign — something the Obama camp denies. A campaign aide said Obama camp has asked the Washington Post for a correction to a July 16 story identifying Raines as having taken calls from the campaign. The Washington Post has not issued one.

McCain said Johnson was at one point in charge of Obama’s VP selection process.

“That same executive got $21 million of your money,” McCain said of Johnson. “And the other CEO, another supporter of Senator Obama, Mr. Raines got $25 million of your money. Let’s tell them to give it back. Let’s tell them to give it back.”

The polls have already snapped away from McCain, satisfying the market’s structural desire for change. McCain leads in no current polls, doing his best with a tie in the Rasmussen Daily Tracker. Gallup’s daily has Barack up 5%.

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