McCain Suggests He May Not Seek Second Term
by Todd Beeton, Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:09:40 AM EST
One day before the Iowa caucuses and John McCain continues to show life in the polls, most notably in New Hampshire, where the latest Suffolk University tracking poll shows him extending his lead over Romney to 9 points, and nationally, where the latest Pew poll has him eke ahead of Giuliani for the first time since January, holding a statistically insignificant 2% lead. Hell, it's even looking like McCain will have a 3rd place ticket out of Iowa tomorrow night after having hardly even campaigned there. So what does this all mean?
Well, I've said before that I believe McCain would be the most daunting Republican candidate to go up against in November and I do think that our best case scenario out of tomorrow night is a. that the story is mostly about Romney v. Huckabee, thus making 3rd place irrelevant and b. Romney exceeds expectations so that he goes into New Hampshire with momentum and snuffs out McCain's insurgency 5 days later. Assuming this perfect storm doesn't hit, however, and McCain is able to translate a New Hampshire win into an infusion of money and support to snowball him through the rest of the early states to the nomination, how to take him down? McCain today revealed what he thinks is his greatest vulnerability: his age.
John McCain is 71 years old, but the issue of his age comes up only occasionally at his town meetings. That is why a query this morning at Pembroke Academy was striking. A woman asked whether McCain had the stamina to serve as president for eight years.
McCain responded by leaving open the possibility that, if he is elected, he might not seek re-election.
"If I said I was running for eight years, I'm not sure that would be a vote getter," McCain said shortly before leaving New Hampshire for Iowa.
John McCain has carefully tried to nurture a relatively strong and youthful persona this campaign season, both through ads featuring images of him as a young soldier and through the appearance of his 91 year old mother on the campaign trail to remind us just how many more years he has in him, but here he seems to undo it all with the implication that his stating that he'd run for a second term would be straining credibility with voters because he's so freakin ancient. Very odd.
Which brings me to what is likely McCain's actual top vulnerability: not just his age, but the kooky sort of off-message things he tends to say in the guise of "straight talk" ("Bomb bomb bomb Iran" comes to mind) that cumulatively make you think "maybe he is too old to trust the presidency with." In other words, we're much more likely to get a macaca moment out of nominee McCain than nominee Romney.