THE BLOG
11/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

15 Days Out: The Odd Out-of-Touch Obsessions of John McCain

Jesse Lee is the Online Rapid Response Manager for the DNC, this is a daily update on the day's messaging.

DNC Note: If you live in Florida, stop reading and vote!

Speaking of which, Senator Obama's in Florida today, telling folks to vote and why they should vote for him ("Go early. We're going to make sure your vote is counted."). He spoke in depth on the economy, laying out the foundation of an administration that actually works for the middle class instead of against them.

John McCain, on the other hand, has spent the day concerned with other matters, namely a series of irrelevant and deceptive attacks. Sadly for him, few others seem concerned with those things. Whether it's Ayers, Joe the Plumber (who one McCain aide promised to discuss "today, tomorrow and every day forward"), or anything else, John McCain's obsessions are jarringly out of touch:

TPM: "A new ABC News/Washington Post poll contains two particularly bad numbers for John McCain. First, 60% of likely voters said they do not think Bill Ayers is a legitimate campaign issue, an indication that his campaigns attacks against Barack Obama simply haven't been working. Second, a full majority of likely voters, at 52%, say the selection of Sarah Palin makes them less confident in John McCain's judgement, compared to only 38% who say it makes them more confident."

TPM: "Poll: Voters In Ohio And Missouri Entirely Unmoved By McCain's 'Joe The Plumber' Stunt... That's pretty consistent. In both states -- both Bush states -- all of one-tenth of the voters who know who Joe the Plumber is said it made them more likely to back McCain. And in both states, huge, huge majorities of around 85% say the Joe mentions make no difference. It's worth pointing out that McCain's "Joe the Plumber" gambit isn't just some throwaway one-off gag. It's a central pillar of McCain's closing argument on the economy, which is likely to decide this election. He invokes Joe at just about every rally. And his campaign even blasted out an email to supporters today asking them to tell the campaign how they are each 'Joe the Plumber,' with the possibility that the best could end up in an ad! But if this poll is any indication, Joe the Plumber's coattails won't be enough to rescue McCain -- in two of his must-win states."

Today's erratic attack du jour is about comments made by Joe Biden last night about the tough tests ahead for the next president. Even long-time Republican hack John Feehery couldn't keep up a straight face trying to echo McCain's absurdity this afternoon:

The McCain campaign also took an errant stab at attacking Obama's millions of grassroots donors. Ben Smith notes that it was "a day on which McCain campaign manager Rick Davis hinted that Obama was taking foreign money." But as the Associated Press explained, "The Russians have turned down Sen. John McCain's request for campaign money -- and had a bit of a laugh at his expense. Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, and several other diplomats at the mission received a fundraising appeal from the Republican presidential nominee on Thursday, according to Ruslan Bakhtin, a spokesman for Russia's U.N. mission."

And then of course there's the "socialism" of giving working people tax breaks. Mind you, McCain has spent the last year lying about how Obama was going to raise working people's taxes, but now that he has finally acknowledged Obama will give them a break, suddenly it's "welfare." Returning to Gen. Powell, he calmly made a mockery of that argument along with virtually every other tenet of McCain's message yesterday:

Q: Sir, what role did McCain's negativity play in your decision?

POWELL: It troubled me. You know, we have two wars. We have economic problems. We have health problems. We have education problems. We have infrastructure problems. We have problems around the world with our allies. And so those are the problems the American people wanted to hear about, not about Mr. Ayers, not about who is a Muslim and who's not a Muslim. Those kinds of images going out on al Jazeera are killing us around the world. And we have got to say to the world it doesn't make any difference who you are or what you are. If you're an American you're an American.

And this business of, for example, a congressman from Minnesota who's going around saying let's examine all congressmen to see who is pro-America or not pro-America. We have got to stop this kind of nonsense and pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and in our diversity. And so that really was driving me. And to focus on people like Mr. Ayers, these trivial issues for the purpose of suggesting that somehow Mr. Obama would have some kind of terrorists' inclinations, I thought that was over the top. It was beyond just good political fighting back and forth. I think it went beyond. And then to sort of throw in this subtle Muslim connection. You know, he's a Muslim and a terrorist. And it was taking root. And we can't judge our people and we can't hold our elections on that kind of basis. And so yes, that kind of negativity troubles me and the constant shifting of the argument.

I was troubled a couple of weeks ago when in the middle of the crisis the campaign said we're going to go negative and they announced it. We're going to go negative and attack his character through Bill Ayers. And now I guess the message this week is we're going to call him a socialist. Mr. Obama is now a socialist because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have. Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who pay it in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there's nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more, who should be paying less. And for us to say that makes you a socialist I think is an unfortunate characterization that isn't accurate. And I don't want my taxes raised. I don't want anybody else's taxes raised. But I also want to see our infrastructure fixed. I don't want to have a $12 trillion national debt and I don't want to see an annual deficit that's over $500 billion heading toward a trillion. So how do we deal with all of this?

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