Sen. McCain talks straight

Jonathan Martin at the Politico reports on John McCain’s campaigning in Iowa. According to Martin, McCain’s campaign events are dominated by questions about Iraq, and McCain’s somber answers are undermining his ability to project the ebullience, and perhaps to generate the enthusiasm, that marked his 2000 presidential bid.
It happens that I just finished watching a replay of one of the McCain events Martin covered — a town hall style meeting in Des Moines — and Martin’s assessment seems on the money. McCain spurned several opportunities to give rousing, or at least mildly upbeat, answers to questions about Iraq. Every positive development he cited — e.g., progress in Anbar province — was offset with a negative development — e.g. problems in Baghdad.
Campaign events normally are intended to make the audience feel that the candidate will either preserve a successful status quo or has the answers for reversing an unsuccessful one. McCain did not attempt to convey either sense. He therefore came across as credible and maybe even statesman like. But whatever voters might say, deep down I think they’re looking for a candidate who makes them feel good.
McCain received the same question I asked Mitt Romney — what is Plan B if the surge fails? McCain’s answer was that, while he could spin off lots of options he preferred to provide some straight talk: political reality in this country is such that if the surge fails, support for the war will evaporate to the point that the only viable Plan B may be withdrawal.
An honest answer, but is it the stuff that puts Iowa voters in the mood to back McCain and commit their time and energy to his campaign?
Via Real Clear Politics

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