Sunday, March 9, 2008

McCain Sitting Pretty While Dems Self-Destruct

John McCain's sitting in the "catbird seat" amid the continued nomination battle for the Democrats.

The Washington Post has the story, which goes against arguments that the Arizona Senator would be somewhat weakened by near-exclusive media focus on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has sketched out an ambitious plan to exploit the ongoing bickering between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), through weeks of heavy fundraising, a trip abroad, policy speeches and a biography tour aimed at broadening his appeal beyond traditional Republican voters.

As his rivals clash over who is qualified to answer a 3 a.m. phone call in the White House, McCain will meet with foreign leaders in Europe and the Middle East. While Obama and Clinton argue about do-over primaries in Florida and Michigan, McCain will be free to roam the country, giving speeches, holding town-hall meetings and raking up cash.

The strategy is being launched as some in the Republican Party worry that McCain will be forgotten amid the news media's intense focus on the Democratic presidential race. "Understandably," McCain quipped to reporters on his plane last week. "I'll be watching, too."

The evolving plan also calls for the Republican National Committee to use the time to seed the conservative echo chamber -- blogs, talk radio and independent groups -- with red-meat rhetoric and ammunition about the lack of Democratic qualifications.

"You'd rather be the definer than the defined," said Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's communications director.

Few in either party thought it would be like this. Many more expected that the Democrats would settle quickly on a nominee while the fractured Republican Party dithered. As recently as January, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum predicted that the GOP was "headed for a brokered convention. I don't think we're going to get a nominee."

Publicly, McCain shrugs when asked whether the Democratic battle helps or hurts his nascent general election campaign. Some senior GOP strategists, including former White House adviser Karl Rove, fear that the red-hot Democratic contest could make McCain look irrelevant, forcing him out of the daily news reports.

"Mr. McCain becomes less interesting to the media. Stories about him move off page one and grow smaller. TV coverage becomes spotty and short," Rove wrote in an opinion article published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.

But top McCain advisers think it is a gift, and the push to raise money -- verging on desperate after Obama's $55 million haul in February -- has already been unleashed.
I obviously think prolonged Democratic infighting is a Godsend.

The Democrats really are going to the convention, so not only will we be having a feast of brutal mudslinging leading up to the party's key forthcoming primary contests, it's also nearly impossible for either candidate to have a majority of the convention delegates at the end of formal caucus and primary voting in May.

Unless the DNC intervenes to solve the Florida and Michigan controversy early, Hillary will hammer the "
disenfranchisment" argument all the way to Denver. Meanwhile, the party's oppositional contingents of antiwar and netroots fanatics will mount there own attacks on the candidates, pulling the campaign's debate further to the left.

Public opinion polls
already show dead-heat matchups between McCain and both Democrats, so the sustained bickering positions the Republican nominee to make the case for experience and maturity precisely when the Democrats will look their most petty.