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What up, homes? McCain's bad day at the ranch

By Jimmy Orr / August 22, 2008

NEWSCOM

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By anyone's measure "There's Got to be A Morning After," is a terrible song - with all due respect to Maureen McGovern fan (s).

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But, undoubtedly, the McCain team was clinging to it yesterday after a simple interview led to an all-out war witnessed in campaign speeches, television advertising, television news coverage, blogs, emails, twitters, radio, and even the most rudimentary of news media - the newspaper.

It was a simple question: How many homes do you own? Although polling is not yet available, conventional wisdom would indicate that most Americans can answer that question. An unscientific newsroom poll here at the Monitor backed that conventional wisdom: 100 percent of those polled could answer the question without hesitation. Remember, this was an unscientific poll, however. And the margin for error was 3 percentage points. So technically speaking the results could be 97 percent to 3 percent.

But the answer wasn't simple for presidential candidate John McCain.

An aerial assault

As a result, both camps sprang into action. One on offense and one on defense. Defense may win football games, but yesterday's offensive attack could make Peyton Manning look like an interception-laden slug.

Barack Obama's campaign hit hard and fast. Within minutes of the story going live on the Internet, an email was sent out from the Obama campaign:

"This story about John McCain losing track of how many houses he owns is a telling moment that helps to explain why he still thinks 'the fundamentals of our economy are strong' and why he offers just more of the same economic policies that we've gotten from President Bush for the last eight years."

Talking points

At a town hall meeting in Virginia, Obama was on message:

"If you don't know how many houses you have then it's not surprising that you might think that the economy was fundamentally strong," Obama said. "But if you are like me and have one house or you are like the millions of people who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective."

As if he had psychic abilities, prospective vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine was also on message:

"I understand that Senator McCain was asked yesterday this question, 'how many houses do you own?' And he couldn't answer that question," Kaine said on CNN. "He couldn't count high enough apparently..."

Comedy point from Kaine for that last line.

Film at 11

News anchors, always looking for catchy catch-phrases, uttered the line "John McCain's personal housing crisis" endlessly and led their newscasts with:

"The presidential contest came down to this today: a question one candidate couldn't answer ... Just as Obama would stress a more populist message, he heard news today of an inadvertent and totally unexpected assist making his point from John McCain."

"...the Senator's answer was pretty surprising. He essentially said he didn't know how many homes he and his wife Cindy actually own and that was an answer the Obama campaign quickly predicted that working class middle class middle class families would have a pretty tough time understanding.

"John McCain was asked a simple question . In Chester, Virginia this morning, Barack Obama pounced."

Roll out the ads

By this time, the Obama ad team launched a new spot titled "Seven" (in reference to one account of how many homes McCain owns).

"Maybe you're struggling just to pay the mortgage on your home," the spot begins.

Oh yeah?

Then a unique twist occurred when a McCain spokesman turned into Tony Soprano when asked about the housing issue. The spokesman said the reporter should focus their energies on Obama's house by stating, "It's a fricking mansion."

The McCain team launched their own ad called "Housing Problem" which attempted to turn the tables on Obama by discussing Obama's "mansion" and his ties to a shady campaign supporter.

Two hard-hitting ads on housing in merely hours. It was an impressive outing by the advertising folks.If the housing policies of these two candidates are as quick and effective as the housing ads, then the foreclosure crisis could be over by the end of January, 2009.

On to a new day. Next up? Something much more calm. Like maybe a vice presidential announcement.

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