06/25/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

No Bush TV: Johnny Mac Makes A Move

John McCain's brand-new TV strategy: No Bush, no war, no greenhouse effect.

While the usual cable chit-chat continues, John McCain has just made a big shift in his advertising strategy.

Last week, he launched his start-of-the-general election campaign TV ad blitz with a spot focusing on his history as the war hero son and grandson of war heroes. Today, he suddenly changed that ad out for a new spot, one which emphasizes his hoped-for distance from President Bush and positions him as a champion of anti-greenhouse gas efforts.

John McCain has suddenly changed out his new TV ad in battleground states from last week with an entirely different ad, one which makes no reference whatsoever to the unpopular war in Iraq and explicitly breaks with the unpopular president.

McCain's senior advisor Steve Schmidt, who oversaw Arnold Schwarzenegger's move to the center-left in his landslide 2006 re-election campaign as California's governor, tells me that "the (advertising) points were completed on the first ad."

The other ad was supposed, according to multiple reports, to have run until July.

Okay then.

But the new ad is taking its place in, according to Schmidt, 54 broadcast markets in key swing states. Where exactly is it airing? Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. And on cable TV, where the ad will run on Fox News, CNN, Lifetime, The Learning Channel, and the Discovery Channel. But not, not surprisingly, MSNBC.

"John McCain stood up to the President, and sounded the alarm on global warming. Five years ago," intones the new female announcer. Amidst honking car horns and images of collapsing Arctic ice shelves, traffic jams, power plants, and a setting sun. The latter perhaps reflecting some recent polling showing 69% believing that America is suddenly, shockingly, in decline.

Thus, at the same moment in which he comes out for offshore oil drilling, John McCain has switched out his new/old TV ad in battleground states in favor of a new ad in which he explicitly breaks with the unpopular President George W. Bush on the greenhouse effect and climate change, and avoids any reference to the Iraq War.

Apparently, someone informed the senator that his maverick image was fast fading amidst his insistent grip upon a near historically unpopular president of his own party and a war which few want to lose but few want to continue.

So we now have a somewhat incongruous situation, from an ideological standpoint, in which McCain trumpets his independence from the greenhouse-denying Bush administration while continuing to push for a gas tax holiday (derided by economists across the spectrum) and reversing his long-held position by pushing for offshore oil drilling, a short-term fix which is political anathema on both of America's coasts.

Say goodbye to winning California, a long-shot in any case, as I have pointed out before.

Not that you see that in the ad. Which is all about the independent McCain.

And his new slogan: "Reform, Prosperity, Peace."


Ah, what happened to another hundred years in Iraq? Or, alternatively, another five years in Iraq? As McCain put it in his repositioning speech last month that was overshadowed by Bush's attack on "appeasers" in his Knesset speech later that same day.

Forget about that.

That's not what the indies, who will actually decide this election, want. So John McCain -- who could be something of an Indie guy, as in Indiana Jones, the action star who pops up throughout 20th century history, as does McCain himself -- ain't talking war no more.

At least in his brand-new, changed-out TV advertising campaign.