Three months ago, John McCain clinched the Republican nomination. At the time, the Democrats were still fighting it out, and it wasn’t clear who would win the nomination. To add to the mix, the Democrats were throwing everything they had against each other – driving down their popularity and making McCain appealing to a wide variety of voters.
It was a perfect scenario. In a year that could turn into another smoking of the GOP in the Congress, the Republican nominee was presented with a huge advantage – close to a hundred days of potential unopposed general campaigning. But instead of quickly putting together a staff for the general election; picking a running mate who could cover for his flaws in age, experience, economics, and conservatism; and getting down to business against the Democrats, he choose to host a series of cook-outs, which, despite having massive potential for networking, fundraising, and ticket-completing, turned out to be nothing more than dogs on the grill.
Now, three months later, Barack Obama is on the verge of declaring victory in the Democratic primary, and, by many accounts, has already started the search for a running mate. What could have provided McCain with a huge advantage is gone – squandered by a nominee without a sense of urgency. Wasted by a man who failed to see the importance of hitting the ground, blitzing swing states, and so on.
This follows a series of other campaign blunders by McCain, ranging from his failure to be even diplomatic with the base, to declaring himself a know-nothing on economics, to refusing to make an issue out of Obama’s high-level ties to those who’s view of America can only be described as one of hatred.
McCain had little to gain by waiting to start a serious general election campaign. His strengths in military credentials and, if you call it an advantage, his maverick streak, are useful against both Clinton and Obama. Many of the arguments against the Democratic nominee would have been the same as well – both Hillary and Barack are inexperienced, liberal, and prominent members of a party that would rather lose the war in Iraq than the respect of Socialist Europe.