October Surprise Update: What McCain May Be Planning and What Obama Can Do to Ruin It
Political horse-race fans are focusing on Obama's 11-point lead in the new Newsweek poll. But I'm focusing on the 10-point lead McCain has on national security and terrorism -- the only remaining issue voters believe the Republican candidate would be more adept at handling.
As the one arrow left in McCain's quiver-- other than appealing to racists -- national security becomes the likeliest playing field for that GOP fall tradition, the October Surprise.
Last week, desperate to "turn the page" on the economy, the McCain campaign flipped over to the tie-Obama-to-Bill-Ayers section of the scorched earth playbook. It helped unleash some of the darkest demons in the electoral psyche, but it didn't move the needle (except on McCain's unfavorables, which hit a new high).
But, barring the fulfillment of that dream, it seems all-but-certain that McCain will look for another way to highlight what the Newsweek numbers show is his only remaining strength. So Obama -- and his foreign policy expert Joe Biden -- need to make a concerted effort to neutralize the issue by going directly at McCain's supposed strong suit. Doing so would make the success of an October Surprise far less likely.
The best line of attack would be drawing attention to McCain's actual record. His national security rep in 2008 is as over-inflated as the housing bubble was in 2005.
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