Posted: January 8, 2008 3:26 PM
McCain Tries to Recreate 2000 N.H. Style, Win
It was a buoyant Sen. John McCain who toured New Hampshire these last few days, trying to recreate the “Straight Talk Express” style that made him a favorite of the media and an 18-point winner in the Granite State eight years ago.
In 2000, McCain was running a well-funded campaign against then-Gov. George W. Bush. Now the 71-year-old senator is mounting an underfunded campaign against Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts.
But unlike eight years ago, McCain’s possible win would spite a legion of political analysts who wrote his campaign obituary this summer when he fired most of his staff and failed to raise substantial money.
“Six months ago, McCain was dead,” Scott Reed, a Republican strategist, told Bloomberg. “The fact that he’s back in the race is a strong testament to his political skills.”
In the days before Iowa’s vote last week, a series of critical newspapers all endorsed McCain, offering the campaign a shot in the arm. Then former Gov. Mike Huckabee knocked off Romney in Iowa, hurting the former Massachusetts governor’s momentum last week.
So, a weakened Romney and McCain’s continued popularity among many in the Granite State have made for a perfect storm to revive his campaign.
It is an idea McCain has embraced with his new slogan: Mac is Back.
All the attention and polls had McCain brimming with confidence as voters got ready to vote. The senator told one crowd on Monday, “Nobody can buy an election here in the state of New Hampshire,” taking a jab at Romney, who has put millions into his New Hampshire effort. “I don’t care how many attack ads you buy. I don’t care how many people you hire. … That’s why we’re going to win here tomorrow, because the people of New Hampshire have seen me.”
And apparently McCain is one who would know where the polls have him.
Dana Milbank writes in a story datelined “Aboard the Straight Talk Express”, “In need of a fix, he peruses the New Hampshire surveys on the Real Clear Politics Web site on a reporter’s computer. They all show him leading, except for one. ‘What the hell is wrong with Suffolk?’ he asks. Later, he again returns to ‘those jerks at Suffolk. … Monkeys with phones.’ Mac is Back.”
And that is the question that voters will decide on Tuesday, whether the senior senator from Arizona can continue his unexpected Phoenix act, rising from a written-off also-ran to a potential contender for the GOP nomination.
But should the Suffolk poll be right and McCain lose tonight, the picture may be dire.
“[J]ust about everyone you talk to, other than the people inside that particular campaign, will say, yes, it’s make-or-break,” Judy Woodruff reported last night on the NewsHour. “In fact, as I said, John McCain himself has said, Cindy McCain, his wife, his campaign manager is saying he has got to win this state. They’re not saying he’s going to get out if he doesn’t win, but clearly he needs a lift after coming in fourth in Iowa.”