The McCain Campaign Likes to Watch

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Candidate John McCain officially has no view of whether an extended Democratic primary battle is good or bad for his chances in November. At a press conference Tuesday in Ohio, he would not touch the hot potato. “I have stayed absolutely neutral,” he said. “I have never stated whether I wanted this election to stretch out or not. That’s up to the Democratic Party voters, and I have nothing to do with that.” That was not all. “There are arguments on both sides about whether this is good for my campaign or bad for my campaign,” McCain continued. “I have no position on it.”

But his campaign organization appears noticeably pleased by the ongoing Democratic infighting, since they see it as damaging to the Barack Obama brand. The discussion of Obama’s “bitter” comment, the debate over his pastor and his ties to a former Vietnam war protester all fill the news, as McCain tours the country on a tour focused largely on good general election photo ops.

“Every day they run a primary campaign, we run a general election campaign,” explained Mark McKinnon, McCain’s senior media adviser, as the campaign bus rolled through Kentucky. “And every day we run a general election campaign is a good day for us.” That was not all. McKinnon, who used to work for George W. Bush, said he saw an historical analogy. The spring of 2008, he claimed, was shaping up to be as fruitful for Republicans as past cycles.

“In the Bush campaign we used to say that we won the campaign in 2000 and 2004 between March and June,” McKinnon said later in the day. “And I think the way things are going we could say that McCain won this election between March and June.”