At this point, the McCain campaign’s goal should be to raise doubts about Obama’s trustworthiness, and thus ability to lead. This will require a strategy and a tactic.
The campaign’s strategy should be to attack from all directions: character, past associations, political practice in Chicago, “present” votes, lack of a record of accomplishment. It should question what it means for a law professor to leave no academic paper trail, yet produce two well-written autobiographies.
Tactically, it should have Sarah Palin and surrogates — Giuliani, Gingrich, Romney, Pawlenty, Crist, and Sanford — blast away from a few different angles a day. Have the articulate ones make complete, coherent cases on each issue.
Make Barack Obama defend himself, fill in the mysterious gaps, and list concrete outcomes from his work. We shall see how much grace he brings to that situation. Attack hard enough to make the American people pay attention. Any wavering voter should know the reasons that a vote for Obama is a risk, and they should know what it guarantees.
McCain must rise to this moment and be crystal clear about his future economic policy. And it has to be good. Let people know he understand the pain we are all facing together. Because making voters wary of Obama, which they have resisted pretty strenuously heretofore, doesn’t get them to the polls for the Republican candidate.
Here are ten suggestions for the campaign:
1: The economy. Democrats are blaming the current crisis — the one requiring the now-$800 billion bailout — on McCain’s aversion to regulation. Explain the difference between more regulations and useful regulations. Explain that all the regulations in the world, applied to financial institutions, won’t help if government policy mandates that banks issue mortgages to people who can’t repay them. Explain who wanted so badly to expand homeownership, and why, and who benefitted from the work of Freddie and Fannie. List the top three recipients of Freddie and Fannie’s campaign donations.
That’s the history. Here is the abstract point to move to: Obama and his allies truly, deeply believe that markets are bad, and a small group of smart, good-hearted people — them — should be running things. The smart people had the good intentions of having the poor own homes. So they overrode traditional banking norms, which they called racist. Now we are all paying for their leftist ideology. For a real fight, mention the Community Reinvestment Act. Ask what happens in the near future when the “A team” — Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Charles Rangel, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama — are in charge of the economy, during the coming recession.
Don’t sugar-coat the economic situation. If McCain wins, he presides over tough times.