Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 11, 2008

REPUBLICANS SNUBBING MCCAIN.... John McCain was in Minnesota yesterday, home to a very competitive U.S. Senate race. Given the attention that comes with a visit from a presidential candidate, one might assume that Sen. Norm Coleman (R) would want to travel alongside his Republican colleague.

But Coleman apparently concluded he was better off without McCain.

Coleman told reporters that he would not be appearing at a planned rally with McCain this afternoon. Could it be McCain's sliding polling numbers in Minnesota? His attacks on Obama? Coleman said he needs the time to work on suspending his own negative ads.

"Today," he said, "people need hope and a more positive campaign is a start."

What an interesting response. If Coleman wanted to quietly snub McCain, he could have told reporters he had a scheduling conflict and just couldn't make it to McCain's event. Instead, Coleman made it clear he was deliberately snubbing McCain, siding with "hope" and "a more positive campaign."

Nate Silver raised the point that Coleman isn't necessarily the only Republican reluctant to be seen with the Republican presidential nominee.

There are at least three groups of Republicans that might have an interest in distancing themselves from John McCain. Firstly, purple-state moderates like Coleman and Gordon Smith who don't like the campaign's tone. Secondly, the anti-bailout economic populists in the House who might be looking ahead to 2010 and 2012. And thirdly, true conservatives who never trusted McCain that much to begin with.

Far more so than Obama, McCain is dependent on the goodwill of fellow Republicans. With McCain having opted for public financing, RNC funds are an important part of his advertising budget. Because he's way behind Obama on McCain-branded field offices and ground operatives, he is depending on assistance from state and local party organizations. Republican enthusiasm lags behind that of Democrats, and so volunteer resources are scarcer; conservative activists will need to decide if they're going to make phone calls to support McCain or to help save their local Republican Congressman.

If McCain's poll numbers continue to lag, might we see more of these slights? Something to keep an eye on.

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (12)

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Coleman is also coincidentally calling for an end to all negative campaigning after his staff's really, really bad press conferences, where they couldn't answer who bought Coleman's clothing or whether or not he agrees with McCain's social security ideas. Those two blunders are gold for Franken, so now Coleman wants to stay positive?

Posted by: Margaret on October 11, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps this is a misimpression, but my sense is that many Republican establishment figures have avoided helping McCain in any very public way--whether because he's too left, or too right, or too "mavericky." Add in the explicit criticism that's come his way from Republicans, and it is clear that McCain is not receiving the full support of his party. Not that I'm complaining ...

Posted by: sjw on October 11, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Will McCain's numbers crater as the base realizes he can't win? Many of them didn't like him in the first place. They may vote for Barr in some sort of protest and McCain gets something like 35% of the vote. I think it's only hatred of Obama that may cause them to vote for McCain, but if he keeps saying stuff like Obama's a decent person then who knows what will happen.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on October 11, 2008 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Heck even Al Capone thought he was misunderestimated.

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on October 11, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Sen. Coleman put out an ad purporting to show his DFL opponent Al Franken on a video as an angry lefty, the Franken campaign then aired an ad that showed more of the tape revealing that Franken was actually doing an impression of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone. The Coleman ad turned out to be an embarrassing lie. After a year of ubiquitous negative ads Norm Coleman has suddenly got religion about negative campaigning. Convenient, no?

Posted by: James P. on October 11, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

The "touchy-feely" turn the Republicans have taken in their campaigns is all they have left. They can't run on their failed policies. They can't run on their accomplishments. They can't even go negative without it being proven as a lie.
So now we have Republicans distancing themselves not only from their president, but the guy they all chose to replace their president. Calls all their judgment into question.

Posted by: Lew Scannon on October 11, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Actually Bush has more in common character-wise with Capone than I realized.

Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.
Al Capone

I don't even know what street Canada is on.
Al Capone

I have built my organization upon fear.
Al Capone

My rackets are run on strictly American lines and they're going to stay that way.
Al Capone

Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.
Al Capone

This American system of ours, call it Americanism, call it capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.
Al Capone

Vote early and vote often.
Al Capone

You can get more with a nice word and a gun than you can with a nice word.
Al Capone

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on October 11, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK
...purple-state moderates like Coleman and Gordon Smith who don't like the campaign's tone.

Oh, please!

As the rat he is, Coleman can tell when a ship is sinking. He was among the first to turn on Bush when he became a liability, and is avoiding McCain because he's a loser in Minnesota.

It is that simple.

Posted by: CarloP on October 11, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans seem to be in a scramble to distance themselves from...each other! What a lonely, loony party.
But... at least Lieberman will be there ready to entertain with his famous hand wall shadow impressions.

Posted by: maya on October 11, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is very telling, I think. Bush had this exact same reception from the down-ticket GOP when his own implosion became impossible to deny. As far back as the '06 midterm, republicans at the state and federal level were excluding Bush from their campaigns.

Now, of course, so far it has only been this one case against McCain that I've heard of. But could this be the pebble that finally starts the avalanche? Are things really bad enough that even republicans have finally seen through this dishonorable, sleazy creep?

Posted by: Shade Tail on October 11, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Franken is ahead, right? It would have been cool to mention that.

Posted by: Neil B on October 11, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think that there are some Republicans who are as horrified as anyone else to see the fruition of the seeds of hatred that they have sown all these years.

Posted by: thebewilderness on October 11, 2008 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK



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