Last month, when two of Wall Street’s major financial institutions collapsed, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared that he “still” believes that “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.” Since then, McCain’s handling of the crisis has at times appeared incoherent — such as flip-flopping on his support of regulation and claiming he would have fired chairman of the SEC, which the president doesn’t have the constitutional authority to do.
As a result, the McCain campaign has issued a new strategy: just don’t talk about the economy and instead attack Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) character — as a top McCain aide explained to the New York Daily News:
“It’s a dangerous road, but we have no choice,” a top McCain strategist told the Daily News. “If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we’re going to lose.”
Indeed, on Saturday, the Washington Post quoted another top McCain adviser acknowledging that McCain needs to shift away from the economy:
“We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days,” said Greg Strimple, one of McCain’s top advisers. “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.”
Even McCain’s top surrogate Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) last week noted that talking about the economy is bad for McCain, saying that passing the bailout package “will be good for John McCain” because “it will get people back to comparing the two candidates free of a sense of crisis that may make them want to turn against Republicans.”
Aside from his disparate and muddled handling of the financial crisis in the past few weeks, perhaps there is another reason McCain wants to shift the conversation away from the economy: his policies mirror those of the unpopular President Bush. As Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) noted yesterday on ABC’s This Week, McCain “wants to continue the policies we’ve seen in the last eight years.”