McCain Tries to Sell Out the Republican Party
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Oct 12, 2008 at 02:35:24 PM EDT
On Thursday the folks at First Read asked who would sell out whom first, John McCain or the Republican leadership.
*** Checks and balances: Considering the state of the Republican ticket right now (not just McCain, but congressional Republicans too), which will come first: McCain beginning to campaign as the Republican check on Nancy Pelosi's power or congressional Republicans beginning to campaign as the Republican check on Barack Obama?
According to Politico's Jonathan Martin, we now have an answer to this questio:
Implying that the GOP won't win back either the House or Senate, two McCain backers this morning sounded out a new talking point by raising the specter of Democrats in control of both the Congress and White House.
The comments, almost certainly coordinated, would seem to signal a new phase of the campaign.
Few believe the GOP has any chance to reclaim either chamber of Congress. But many in the party have sought to keep a brave public face on their prospects. Now, with under a month until Election Day, McCain's campaign has apparently decided that there is more political benefit in pressing the importance of divided government than pretending the GOP can reclaim the House or Senate.
We'll have to wait and see how well this reasoning works on voters. Certainly, it has the potential to drive a wedge within the Republican Party -- both within the elites and among the base -- as the party sees its presidential nominee selling out the party's congressional leadership (we all remember how well it worked for the GOP in the 1948 election when the selling out went in the other direction). Possibly it could sway some independent voters wary of too centralized of power (though whether this argument is actually persuasive is not at all apparent to me; just because voters often elect a divided government doesn't mean they do so intentionally). Almost undoubtedly it will not be enough to fundamentally change the direction of the election.