January 1, 2008


McCain parties like it's 1999: He works five events into New Year's Eve (Margot Sanger-Katz, 1/01/08, Concord Monitor)

Driving between campaign events yesterday, Sen. John McCain and his adviser, Charlie Black, speculated with reporters about the Republican primary race. Rudy Giuliani, they said, had no scheduled campaign events for yesterday or today.

"It's a holiday," Black said.

"What the hell are we doing?" McCain barked back.

The Arizona senator did not campaign as if it was a holiday yesterday, cramming five events into his New Year's Eve. The emphasis was on house parties, where he made his case to the friends and neighbors of key supporters. He was not alone among his rivals in maintaining a public schedule through the New Year's holiday, but he was the only one in New Hampshire. His rigorous itinerary yesterday highlighted the strategy that McCain has embraced in the waning days of the campaign and that he used in 1999 to win the 2000 New Hampshire primary: Talk to as many undecided voters as he can before the voting begins.

McCain said house parties were perfect for targeting uncommitted voters, and he estimated that as many as a third of the people at each event haven't yet settled on a candidate.

"There's a very large number that are undecided," he said, following a packed house party in Londonderry. "I'd like to tell you they all leave committed to me, but you know better."

In his stump speech, McCain likes to repeat an old joke of fellow Arizonan Morris Udall, who ran for president in 1976. As McCain tells it, one New Hampshire man asks another what he thinks of Udall. The second man replies, "I don't know. I've only met him twice."

McCain tells the story to demonstrate his enthusiasm for what he sees as the challenge of New Hampshire campaigning.

"You cannot buy an election in the state of New Hampshire," he said at a house party in Hancock yesterday morning. "You have to go out and earn their respect and earn their vote. This is why we're feeling good about this election."

As his rivals spend the week in Iowa, McCain has had New Hampshire largely to himself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 1, 2008 9:59 AM

Johnny came marching, eh? I do like his quirkiness.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 1, 2008 2:12 PM