When the ticket of your party is behind everyone feels empowered to heckle. Mike Murphy who never got the nod to come on the McCain team is no exception. He doesn’t care for McCain tangling with the liberal editorial board in a state (Iowa) likely not even in play. He’s got a point.
But there are some bigger issues. First, what exactly is the main message of the McCain campaign right now? Is it, as he spoke about in Missouri today, “bipartisanship“? Or is it an effort to tie Barack Obama to the malfeasance in Washington as many of his ads suggest? It is unclear and the two are somewhat difficult to balance (i.e. it is hard to bash the Dodd-Frank-Obama connection while decrying the harsh rhetoric of hyper-partisanship). Is he stressing his leadership skills ( we saw a move the other to day to tag Obama for “sitting on the sidelines”) or is it to stress a more conservative economic message? Again, not clear.
There is a very narrow window of time left for McCain. He might do well to settle on a single message and then direct all his energies and his communication team in that direction. There really isn’t time or interest among voters to pursue a multi-pronged attack. What’s his best theme and can he communicate it effectively? That seems to be the first order of business.
After that he can figure out what needs to be accomplished in the remaining debates and how to present the bailout bill to voters, if and when it is enacted. Murphy may not have homed in on the most important failing in the McCain camp but he sure identified a core concern among Republicans: what exactly is the McCain team doing with their remaining time and resources? It simply isn’t clear.