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John McCain's September surprise

By Jimmy Orr / September 25, 2008

Jake Turcotte

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It's like 1984 all over again.  Not the presidential race.  Reagan annihilated Mondale in that contest winning 49 out of 50 states and a whopping 58 - 40 percent schlapping in the popular vote.

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This is like November 23, 1984.  A day of legend.  Boston College down by four with six seconds remaining. Doug Flutie scrambles and heaves up a 48 yard Hail Mary.  His favorite receiver is in the right place at the right time.  BC wins.  The colloquial "crowd goes wild" (not in Miami but around TV sets in New England, anyway). Flutie goes on to win the Heisman.

Titanic

Is John McCain the new Doug Flutie?

McCain's move to suspend his campaign and his call to postpone the debate can be criticized, mocked, derided and chastised as a ploy to shake things up.  To, as we referenced last night, change the conversation.

Things were not going well for the Republican candidate.  Poll numbers - down.  Jaws of life couldn't extract McCain's campaign manager from the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mess.  Sarah Palin was pulling off the greatest impersonation ever of Dick Cheney in an undisclosed location and the press wasn't happy about it.

A political campaign has constant sea changes, but this week was a Titanic for McCain.  A simple rearranging of the chairs on the deck wasn't going to work.  He had to bail out.  But he had to bail out in a way that didn't look like he was bailing out.  Even though to many it completely looks like he's bailing out.

On the surface

Sure, McCain's rationale sounds good.  He couches the decision well.

"Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges," McCain said in a press conference.  "Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country."

Spotlight

And while eventually there was a joint statement put out by the two campaigns agreeing to broad principles to help resolve the crisis, it would appear McCain dragged his feet a bit in order to get the leadership spotlight on him.

Asked about the joint statement by CBS's Katie Couric yesterday, McCain said, "This is not the time for statements. ... I think the American people expect more of us. And I would hope that we would respond that way."

"We discussed that we do agree, and I'd be glad to -- to join in a common press release or statement, but now is not the time for statements. Time is now to act," he added.

SNL

So while Saturday Night Live has some rich new material, the conversation has changed.  It has been successful in the few hours since it happened.  And in the 24 second news cycle, that's a success.  The only talk is McCain's move.

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