April 26, 2008


McCain Goes Where Few Republicans Dare, Deep in Democrats’ Territory (ELISABETH BUMILLER, 4/26/08, NY Times)

Mr. McCain was at the end of a weeklong tour to America’s “forgotten places,” otherwise known as swaths of the country where Republicans dare not go — the Black Belt of Alabama, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the coal-mining hollow in Appalachia where President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his war on poverty.

Derided by Democrats as an exploitive publicity stunt, promoted by Mr. McCain’s advisers as evidence that he is determined to tackle poverty, the trip was aimed far beyond the people of Selma, Ala., or Inez, Ky. Its target was suburban swing voters who might see Mr. McCain in such unfamiliar surroundings as a different face of the Republican Party. As the candidate put it Thursday, “I don’t know how many votes I’m going to get in Selma, and I don’t know how many votes I’m going to get here in the city of New Orleans.”

Mr. McCain has seemed alternately moved and awkward this week, and at times defensive about his background. At each stop he offered mostly himself. Substantively, he had little to offer other than general outlines of programs for job training, better Internet access for isolated areas and government partnerships with private enterprise for a faster response to natural disasters. In rural towns, people were excited to see a presidential candidate, no matter his party; in cities like New Orleans they were more skeptical.

But Mr. McCain’s campaign camera crew savored the pictures — scenes of Mr. McCain with the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Ala., were on his campaign Web site within 24 hours — and he himself clearly savored his journey to the Democratic base when the base seems so fractured.

The interesting thing is that any GOP nominee would win all three of those states without any effort, but the atmospherics help him in Bluer states where he's going to be uniquely competitive. The dynamic of this election is that he starts out with W's Electoral College majority and forces Senator Obama to defend numerous states just to avoid a blowout.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 26, 2008 11:22 AM
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