While we’re discussing McCain’s big mistakes, NYT reminds us of McCain’s one obvious gaffe of the campaign, when he told a group in Florida that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” on the same day that Lehman collapsed. We doubt this was decisive, but talk about a way to kill the buzz for his campaign right after his post-Palin pick highs.
The article is a good lesson in how gaffes become campaign fodder:
A thousand miles away, at Senator Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, the aides who monitored Mr. McCain’s every utterance knew immediately that they had just heard a potential turning point in a race that seemed to be tightening. They rushed out to tell Dan Pfeiffer, Mr. Obama’s communications director, what Mr. McCain, the Republican candidate, had just said, knowing that his words could be used to portray him as out of touch.
“Shut up!” Mr. Pfeiffer said incredulously. “He said what?” Mr. Obama, who had just arrived at a rally in Colorado, hastily inserted the comments into his speech. And by nightfall, the Obama campaign had produced an advertisement that included video of Mr. McCain making the statement that would shadow him for the rest of the campaign.
At the McCain campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., at almost the same moment that morning, Mr. McCain’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, looked stricken when his war room alerted him to the comment. Within 30 minutes, he was headed for a flight to Florida to join Mr. McCain as they began a frantic and ultimately unsuccessful effort to recover.
Politics is a sick game, and you need to be a liar to rise up through the ranks. But reading stuff like this makes it seem very fun. Maybe we’ll Netflix the War Room this week.
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