Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Positioning Battle

As Hillary has won the votes of democrats, Barack has been winning over independents, exciting the party. John McCain, meanwhile, is working to position himself as a centrist who can pull votes away from Barack on issues such as global warming:
McCain is emphasizing the environment while he tours the Pacific Northwest this week, seeking the support of independent voters. Although environmental groups regard McCain more favorably than most Republicans, some view his record as disappointing.
With President Bush immensely unpopular, it is incumbent on McCain to stake out some new territory so that Barack's attempts to brand him as a continuation of Bush don't take hold.
"I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears," McCain said, alluding to Bush, who withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to curtail emissions. "I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges."
Of course, to get something you have to give something up. Even as McCain describes himself as a conservative, becoming the Global Warming Republican is not going to win over those members of the party who are shaky on McCain over things like immigration.

Apparently, as his people crunch the numbers, they figure he's better off chasing centrists than he is conservatives. Perhaps the latter group is shrinking in influence so fast that McCain is creating a new model for winning national elections as a member of the GOP.

Will it work? Here's Jeffrey Toobin's reaction, which will likely be common:
"You know, the fact that he acknowledges global warming is seen as a big advantage for him, but it's like acknowledging gravity. It is a scientific fact." Toobin then compared McCain to President Bush on the issue, stating that "the real issue is not whether it [global warming] exists. The question is what to do about it, and, in that area, he's not as far as to the right as Bush is, but he's pretty close."
So the real power of this tactic is that it makes McCain seem younger and hipper than your average old republican, and again, it makes him look unlike G.W. Bush.

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