It is a tried and true tactic of every presidential nominee: sabotage the fun and festivities of their opponent’s political convention. John McCain and his RNC allies are no exception, and they are getting a big assist from their new best friend, Hillary Clinton.
Sure, the Republicans have invaded Denver with the help of usual GOP surrogates spokesmen, conference calls and websites, all taking issue with Barack Obama’s qualifications, message and VP pick. They have a war room. One McCain advisor neatly summed up the game plan: “Our goal is to remind Americans-not just Republicans but the millions of Democrats and independents who voted for Sen. Clinton, as well-that while Barack Obama may be ready for his close-up, he is not ready to lead our country.”
But front and center in the “oppo” campaign is Hillary. She is the star of McCain’s newest ads. She is the focus of rallies. The RNC featured a Protest Party and a Happy Hour on Monday night — both in Hillary’s honor. (They announced the latter with this comment from a former Hillary supporter: “Even though I’m a Democrat and don’t always agree with John McCain, I support him because he is willing to put his country first. . . Unlike Senator Obama, John McCain has a record of working across the aisle, and, as president, he will bring Democrats, Republicans and Independents together — just like he did in the Senate.”)
It is not surprising that the McCain team would go this route. By stiffing Clinton in the VP selection process and refusing to even go through the vetting motions the supposedly empathetic and savvy Obama has reopened wounds and alienated key female voters. Even the MSM acknowledges he’s got a problem. (Indeed, they are anxious on a number of fronts – how is it, after all, that The One in a dead heat with McCain?)
The hottest storyline from the opening gavel of the Convention has been the Hillary-Obama feud. And the poll numbers are stark: Obama isn’t closing the sale with the Clinton supporters. At times the “subplot” of the Convention seemed to cast a shadow over the main show — oh yes, The Chosen One.
Can McCain’s team steal away Hillary voters, during the week of the Democrats’ Convention no less? A McCain operative expressed confidence: “We believe that many of Sen. Clinton’s voters share the view that Sen. Clinton herself expressed in the Democratic primary, that there were two candidates who were prepared for the presidency, Sen. McCain and Sen. Clinton, and one who was not, Sen. Obama. And we are telling those voters we appreciate and welcome their support.”