McCain’s New Lurch: I Will Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight

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John McCain offers his newest lurch today.

In a speech he is to give in Virginia Beach, McCain says 17 times that he will fight for America, according to his prepared remarks. He repeatedly calls himself a “fighter.” And he’s an experienced fighter who won’t–like you know who–have to study up on issues before making command decisions.

Over and over in this new stump speech, McCain says he is ready to fight–for the country, for change, for a new direction, for the future, for the children, for justice for all. Seriously.

Times are tough, McCain notes, but America is worth fighting for. It needs a fighter like John McCain, who is a real fighter who has always been a fighter for America.

In other words, vote for the fight guy. Here’s how the speech ends:

I know what hopelessness feels like. It’s an enemy who defeats your will. I felt those things once before. I will never let them in again. I’m an American. And I choose to fight. Don’t give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight. Fight for a new direction for our country. Fight for what’s right for America. Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, infighting and selfishness in Washington. Fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children’s future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

Get the picture?

This new pitch doesn’t even qualify as a Hail Mary. It seems not substantial enough to rate as a real play. It’s as if McCain’s handlers did a focus group and found that the one word undecided voters associate positively with McCain is “fighter.” And that’s all McCain’s strategist have to work with.

That wouldn’t be a shock. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll is loaded with bad news for the McCainiacs. Not only is Obama up by 10 points among registered voters, but Obama is seen by more registered voters (55 percent) as a safe choice for president than McCain (50 percent). Worse for McCain, the poll shows that far more voters believe he is attacking his opponent rather than addressing the issues (59 percent) than those who feel the same about Obama (26 percent.) And McCain’s favorable rating has in the past month dropped from 59 percent to 52 percent, while Obama’s has gone up from 58 percent to 64 percent.

Which means McCain’s blistering attacks against Obama have boomeranged. They have made him seem a candidate mired in mud. If the poll is accurate, then the McCain campaign cannot stick to this road. Though McCain promised die-hard (rabid, that is) supporters last week he would blast Obama with Bill Ayers at the final debate Wednesday night, it could well be counterproductive for him to do so.

What are his options, then? McCain and his advisers appear to believe it’s to say the word “fight” over and over. To reprise the POW pitch and offer McCain to voters as a fighter. Rah, rah. Fight, team, fight. This seems rather pathetic. It is true that the first thing a candidate has to do when he’s in a hole is to stop digging. But McCain may need a better ladder than this.


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