Commentary Magazine


Another Chapter In The Battle For The Narrative

John McCain is not accepting “uncle” from the likes of Sen. Jay Rockefeller. In a Fox interview he turns up the heat on the candidate himself:

I don’t understand that but I would call upon Senator Obama to repudiate Senator Rockefeller’s remarks. If he is surrounded by people like that, than I think he should have a direct repudiation. I frankly am unfamiliar with that rhetoric by a U.S. senator. I do believe that if Senator Obama is going to maintain the type of campaign that he says that he is–a respectful campaign–and this is one of his closest and strongest supporters, than I think he should repudiate Senator Rockefeller. Immediately.

And he’s not letting go of the “100 year” comment fight, clearly believing he can turn the tables on Obama:

It’s not respectful of the commitment that Senator Obama made. He continues to say it. Anyone who reads the context of my remarks knows that I was talking about after the war–a security relationship . . . so it’s really a direct contradiction of Senator Obama’s stated purpose of conducting a respectful campaign. And I think the American people will evaluate that.

Whether accurately or not, the McCain team seems convinced that Obama is banking on his crossover appeal to general election voters as a “new kind of politician.” It is not a bad supposition, given the emphasis Obama has placed on this theme in the primary race. It follows then that McCain will take every opportunity to try to smudge up that image and suggest Obama is “more of the same.” So long as Obama and his surrogates give McCain material, you can bet they will use it. We’ll see whether Obama “blinks” on these issues, either apologizing about Rockfeller himself or getting off the “100 year” refrain. I suspect he won’t.  And that will be just fine with the McCain camp.