The other day, an astute observer of the political scene — my older daughter — told me it might be a good idea for John McCain to select his running mate before too long. This would enable him to further unify Republicans and to leverage his advantage as his party’s nominee by presenting himself as a full-blown presidential candidate, in contrast to his bickering Democratic rivals.
Now an even more astute observer, Hugh Hewitt, is recommending an expanded version this approach. Hugh writes:
If Senator McCain selected a running mate early and set about the country with a team of advisors that will accompany him into the executive branch in some capacity, the contrast with the rapidly deteriorating Democratic front bench would be profound, just as this week’s trip to Iraq, Jordan and Israel showcased the chasm between McCain and Obama. Conventional wisdom says McCain waits as long as he can to name a running mate, but with a fund-raising gap that will only widen as the left gets more and more energized about having a nominee with a radical past and pastor, there’s an opportunity to cement the GOP support and claim the center right and energize fund-raising and organization in front of Team McCain.
If McCain follows this approach, the selection of his team of economic advisers will be especially critical. Barack Obama has already seized on McCain’s concession that economics is not his strong suit (this plus the “100 more years in Iraq” are his two main talking points on McCain). Moreover, the economy, always a crucial issue, has taken on an even more important role since McCain made that statement. McCain needs not just to be visible, but to begin demonstrating that he’s prepared to lead on economic issues.
By the way, it’s amusing to hear Obama attack McCain based on the Arizona Senator’s “straight talk” about his lack of economic expertise. It would be interesting to learn Obama’s basis for claiming superior expertise in this area. Obama has been a law professor (sort of), a “community organizer,” an Illinois legislator, and a less-than-one-term U.S. Senator with no distinct track record on economic matters. Indeed, Obama’s economic experience appears limited to home economics — specifically his family’s struggle, as his wife tells it, to get by on half a million dollars of annual income (the one million dollars or more the Obamas make, minus the book revenue Michelle says keeps the family’s head above water).
In other words, the only advantage Obama has over McCain when it comes to economic expertise is his immodesty.
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