Posted: July 30, 2007 5:12 PM
McCain Sets Sights on New Hampshire, South Carolina
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., put his new strategy of focusing on the early primary states into motion last week with multi-day trips to New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Reporter Sridhar Pappu traveled with McCain in New Hampshire and in a Sunday Washington Post article described a candidate who is relatively content despite his campaign’s recent struggles. Walking down the street in Nashua, Pappu wrote that “watching McCain now with his sunglasses on, stopping to shake hands with people on the brick sidewalk, he seems very much like the candidate from seven years ago: radiant and suffused with the belief that he can become president.”
Newsweek’s Holly Bailey saw much of the same, noting a campaign sign at a rally in Keene, N.H., that read “THE MAC IS BACK!” She also interviewed McCain strategist Charlie Black, who had been fired from Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980 when it went through its own internal shake-up. He said of the comparison between the two campaigns: “Our infighting throughout that campaign was 10 times as bad as any of this…You could argue that we did everything we could to drag Reagan down and he still came back to be president. There’s no reason you can’t make the same case for McCain.”
His visit to Keene seems to have paid off. In an editorial Sunday the Keene Sentinel praised the Republican candidate for his “blunt talk” on Iraq.
McCain took that blunt talk to South Carolina over the weekend where he spoke to an audience in Greenville about why he still supports the war. Afterward, he told Dan Hoover of the Greenville News, “I know what’s right about Iraq, I know it.” He added: “The one thing I think I can convince people of is that I do what I believe is right, and it’s not snap judgment, it’s a product of years of experience and knowledge.”
But McCain’s upbeat demeanor can’t hide some of the bitter realities of his campaign. On Sunday, Gannett News Services’ Dan Nowicki and Mike Madden analyzed the senator’s chances in each of the early primary states. They say that Iowa is his “weakest link” because he did not compete there in 2000. In New Hampshire, anti-war sentiment runs high, meaning McCain’s support for the war may be particularly hard to overcome. And the writers note that six out of 13 staffers have left McCain’s South Carolina team.
McCain, however, did add a staffer this week, New Hampshire native Jim O’Brien, to head the senator’s “Conservation Advisory Committee,” which helps McCain develop his environmental policies.
Coming up this week, McCain tackles his money woes with fundraisers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Ohio and California.