Sunday, November 2, 2008

Last Stop on the Straight Talk Express…

… is New Hampshire! (At least before the campaign does the obligatory return to the home state for photo-op vote and Election night party.)

As the Presidential Campaign winds down into its final 48, this bit of news struck me:

Tomorrow, McCain spends part of the day in Pennsylvania before heading to New Hampshire, where he’ll hold his final town hall of the campaign in Peterborough, a place that McCain regards as something of a lucky charm. He held his first town hall meeting there during his 2000 campaign and wound up there on the eve of his comeback primary victory earlier this year. It’s “where our campaign has been rescued and resurrected many times before,” Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, told reporters yesterday.

Ah yes … you know they call it the comeback.

Q: Will it work?

A: Not a chance.

Despite the grand symbolism McCain is evoking with the return to the resurrection of his campaign during the 2008 GOP primary - which led to the splintering of the fundamentalists between Romney and Huckabee, and let McCain steal the moderates from Guiliani - but even his advisers aren’t buying the prospect of a sequel:

… privately, McCain and his aides are unsure if it will be as lucky this time around. Down by 13 points in the state according to poll released yesterday, McCain and his aides view his stop there as more nostalgic than game changing. Indeed, a senior McCain aide says the candidate and his advisers have gone back and forth in recent days about whether the stop was time well spent in the final hours of the campaign.

The best analogy I can come up with to explain the McCain campaign’s decision is to explain my own decision to draft Tom Brady of the Patriots in my fantasy league this season. The reason: Nostalgia. While the Patriots have become the Evil Empire of the NFL, I’ve had Brady on my team each of the past two seasons - both to my benefit as I performed admirably…nay, heroically with his help. As such, when he was an available late first round pick this year, against good logic, I took him because he’s been good for me. But this is no way to gamble - Brady went down and out for the season during the first game. It’s like betting money on the Vikings on the first game of the twice annual Vikings-Packer matchup, and even after they get trounced in the first game, going back to the trough and betting on them to win the second game - possible even going double or nothing out of state pride.

But it’s no way to run a Presidential campaign, and it leads me to believe that the McCain camp knows it’s over. This is for pride now. To re-visit the battlefield of bygone campaign victories, and be able to leave the field with your chin up. When McCain goes to New Hampshire, where he is 13 points down the day before the election, while Obama tries to run up the score in the West is as obvious a signal as they come.

For me, I’ll have the good fortune to be in Chicago on election night; gotta work my way down to Grant Park to catch a glimpse of history.

-Jeffrey Oak

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