John McCain, who admitted on Sunday that "the economy has hurt us a little bit in the last week or two," is desperately trying to turn the political page.
On Friday the Arizona Republican sought to calm down the vitriol emanating from his crowds, facing down a few supporters who criticized Barack Obama. Then, on Saturday, his campaign leaked word to Politico that he would be introducing a bold new economic agenda on Monday.
And yet, as soon as the Senator began leaving behind last week's shadows, he stepped right back into the internal confusion and mixed messaging that has haunted his presidential run to this point.
Late Sunday evening word emerged from McCain headquarters that, in fact, there would be no bold new economic proposal to throw on the table.
"We do not have any immediate plans to announce any policy proposals outside of the proposals that John McCain has announced, and the certain proposals that would result as economic news continues to come our way," said spokesman Tucker Bounds.
Then McCain gave a set of interviews that could very well overshadow the agenda he had planned for the days ahead.
The first took place on the set of a local Virginia news station. Read a quote from the chair of the state's Republican Party -- who compared Obama to Osama bin Laden since they both "have friends that have bombed the Pentagon" -- McCain claimed he didn't have enough information to judge whether the remark was appropriate.
"I have to look at the context of his remarks," he responded. "I have always repudiated any comments that have been made that were inappropriate about Senator Obama. The fact is that William Ayers was a terrorist and bomber and unrepentant. I don't care about that. But, Sen. Obama ought be the candid and truthful about his relationship with Mr. Ayers..."
Damning as an appeal for context may be, in actuality McCain seemingly didn't know that his own spokeswoman had condemned the remarks as "not appropriate."
"While Barack Obama is associated with domestic terrorist William Ayers, the McCain campaign disagrees with the comparison that Jeff Frederick made," said Gail Gitcho.
Around the same time as the Virginia interview aired, the Spanish-language Univision published its own sit down with McCain, in which the Arizonan suggested that there was a direct connection between the September 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.
Asked by the host whether he agreed with Barack Obama that "the Iraq war had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of 9/11," McCain replied:
"No. We invaded a country that every intelligence agency said was developing weapons of mass destruction. Think of Saddam Hussein in power with oil at 100 dollars a barrel, and all that entails with his commitment which when after he was captured, he stated categorically that he would acquire weapons of mass destruction, and he would use them wherever he could. Now, Iraq--"
"But he had nothing to do with 9/11," the hosted interjected.
"He had a lot to do with invading his neighbor Kuwait, and we had to go to war and fight there," McCain replied. "He had a lot to do with using weapons of mass destruction, he used them previously, so there's no doubt about his commitment to get them."
Needless to say, such a statement seems likely to be met with resistance both within intelligence communities and among McCain's opposition. Trailing in the polls, and determined to "whip" Obama's "you-know-what," the Republican nominee for president can ill afford such controversy at this stage of the election.
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