The Corner

McCain’s Mission Tonight

Just talked to someone who knows McCain well about what McCain needs to accomplish in Nashville tonight.  “Everybody says John needs a knockout,” this person told me.  “He doesn’t.  He’s got 28 days left.  He needs a strong and steady performance.  He needs to be very empathetic, as he has been in many, many town meetings, and he needs to use it as a way to pivot to issues that the voters most care about — to run a negative campaign against Obama, but on those issues….the Ayers thing, in this kind of election, seems old and irrelevant.”

Yesterday, I talked to a member of the McCain team, who told me, “I think the point of the town hall debate is to connect with the American people. Our first goal is to show that John McCain gets it.”  By “it,” the person meant: “That he understands the concerns of the American people better than Barack Obama does.”

Maybe I’m all wrong, but I don’t expect a rock-’em-sock-’em night. The subject of Ayers will come up if a member of the town hall audience, or moderator Tom Brokaw, brings it up, but after talking to Team McCain, I would be very surprised if McCain himself said anything about it unless someone else brought it up.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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