McCain Plays Defense

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As a rule, political candidates have more success when they’re telling people what they’re for and who they are — rather than defensively explaining what, and who, they are not. Which is why you might have found the first two national salvos of the general election from the McCain campaign a bit puzzling. First, in his general election launch speech a week ago tonight (widely panned because of McCain’s awkward delivery), the money graf was all about McCain defending himself against the Democratic charge that he is little more than McBush, a clone who would continue the current unpopular president’s policies. Then, at the end of the week, came the campaign’s first major TV buy, a 30-second spot running in ten key states around the country, on both cable and broadcast. It’s message: I’m not a warmonger.

McCain’s advisers know it would be far better to be spending precious time and money defining who John McCain is rather than who he isn’t. But in the current political environment, they felt they had to play defense first. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the McCain ad, called “Safe”: