After watching John McCain’s acceptance speech for the Republican candidate for the presidency, I came to a conclusion about the Republican campaign:
They are throwing the election away because they know they can’t win, and they want to save their money, and their top candidates, for the next presidential election 4 years from now.
It wasn’t just the speech itself that made me draw this conclusion. It is a culmination of months of watching the campaign unfold, starting with the Republican primary season. If you recall, during the initial stages of the primary, McCain was having money problems, and he didn’t appear to have a very organized campaign. But, suddenly it looked like McCain was appealing to more Republican voters than anticipated, and it breathed some new life into the McCain campaign. It wasn’t enough though, as the party spent more time pointing the fingers at Democratic candidate Barack Obama than defining their own platform.
This was even more evident in the last few days, when McCain chose unknown Sarah Palin as his VP running mate. With Palin’s inexperience, this immediately took their whole argument about Barack Obama - which was that he just didn’t have the experience and judgment to lead – completely out of the picture. It was also directly opposite to the Democratic strategy, where Joe Biden was selected as Obama’s running mate, to help balance out Obama's experience issue. While some pundits say that Palin has energized the party, it has only help draw days of negative attention to her (with many more days to come), and cause many to question McCain’s judgment. With the election less than 60 days away, the media and public will continue to vet Palin, and I imagine only the negative issues will come out. Again, this is unlike the Obama campaign, which chose a candidate who is well known and thoroughly vetted, just by the nature of Biden’s tenure with the Senate.
Now, let’s review McCain’s speech. You’ve heard of style over substance? Well, this speech had neither style nor substance. McCain seemed stiff, his smiles forced – he looked like he could not wait to get it over with. He said he would drive change in Washington, yet he’s had years to do it, and hasn’t done so. In fact, in many cases he supported the current administration, which is expected from any dutiful party member. But it doesn’t make for a person who can say that NOW he will make change. McCain also did not really define just exactly how he would make change, so the speech was very thin on substance and relaying the party platform. I still don’t know what their platform is.
It is evident that Barack Obama is an excellent public speaker. That was made crystal clear years ago when he made a speech at the Democratic convention during the 2004 DNC, which catapulted him into the spotlight and may have set the stage for his current bid for the presidency. I am sure that the McCain campaign knows that they are unable to match the oratory skills of Obama, but their approach with McCain acceptance speech could have had more life to it.
Another issue of concern is that during this convention, it has become apparent by the camera coverage of the delegates that there is little representation from African Americans. The Boston Globe reported that “only 36 of approximately 2,000 delegates gathered here at the Xcel Energy Center this week are African-American, according to the study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The center, which tracks such data, said it is the lowest rate of black participation in 34 years.” This could mean that McCain has little chance of drawing African-American voters, who seem poised for a record turnout for Barack Obama.
And despite what the Republicans say is a whole host of disgruntled Hillary supporters out there who will vote for McCain out of protest that Hillary isn’t the Democratic candidate, I just don’t see it. I supported Hillary in the primary, but I also am currently an Obama supporter. All the women (and men) that I know who voted for Hillary are also currently supporting Obama. I think the whole “we are going to get all the Hillary voters by selecting Sarah Palin” was a Hail Mary pass that is going to fail.
The Republicans know that they have a formidable opponent in Barack Obama. Based on many people that I speak to on a daily basis about this election, I tend to think that we may have a near landslide coming for Obama. The McCain supporters are few and far in between. But, as we all know, anything can happen between here and the election, but one thing I don’t see happening is the Republican Party waking up and energizing their candidate or better defining their platform. I think they know it’s over, and are already setting the stage for excuses as to why they failed. We’d probably hear things like “people aren’t ready for a woman as VP” or “the media was easy on Obama” etc. etc. I think the Republican big wigs have already moved on to four years from now. So as far as the Republican strategy, I say that right now, it’s either duck and cover, or cut and run. Maybe a bit of both.
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