It has been fascinating to watch the McCain campaign deal with the hoopla surrounding Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe. The campaign’s decision to counter-program McCain on domestic issues in swing states (like today’s visit to New Hampshire) was a good one. But McCain needs to avoid getting pulled into a defensive posture on foreign policy this week, something the reporters covering him will attempt to do at every opportunity. You could hear the frustration in his voice yesterday, during multiple interviews on the network morning shows.
If McCain complains too vociferously, he runs the risk of drawing comparisons to an indignant Bob Dole in 1996. He would be better served by focusing on his own message this week, even if news coverage is muted in comparison to the media frenzy surrounding the Obama trip. There will be other opportunities to engage Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming months, but this week is not one of them. Metaphorically speaking, McCain should treat this as a July week at the beach, and try to stay cool.
Update: From the sound of this clip of his town hall meeting in Rochester, New Hampshire this morning, McCain apparently opted to skip the beach.
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