McCain Ad Pushes ‘Maverick’ Theme
With Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin drawing huge crowds — and an early, yet unsurprising, endorsement from the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post — the McCain campaign demonstrates it is no clearly longer concerned with shoring up support among the GOP’s conservative base with its newest TV ad.
In the spot, titled “Original Mavericks,” the campaign settles into the narrative it is likely to promote between now and November — that Sen. John McCain and Palin are “mavericks” ready to buck their own party for the good of America.
PRODUCTION NOTES:The spot repeats the claim that Palin “stopped the ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’” While technically true — as governor, she did, eventually, kill the project, arguably when it became politically untenable — it ignores the fact that she was a supporter of the bridge as a gubernatorial candidate.
The Obama campaign quickly seized on this, with Obama spokesman Bill Burton releasing a statement calling the McCain camp’s assertion “a lie.” As my colleague Ari Melber notices, this is a substantial escalation in the intensity of the Obama campaign’s language.
Also, eagle-eyed Ben Smith over at Politico notes that the source cited in the ad’s on-screen text, as the announcer says Palin “stopped the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’” doesn’t actually support the claim.
The only thing the article, from The Anchorage Daily News, says about the bridge is that Palin “ordered her administration to seek fewer congressional earmarks after Alaska’s ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ became a national symbol of pork-barrel spending” — a far cry from the earmark-hating image the campaign is projecting. The Anchorage Daily News article is the source of the headline that appears in the ad, that “Palin flies high as reformer;” but the juxtaposition of the announcer’s words and the text is a bit misleading. I guess the McCain camp didn’t think anyone would bother to read the fine print.
Perhaps most interesting is the spot’s implicit criticism of GOP orthodoxy. If McCain and Palin were willing to stand up to their own party to do what’s right, then it logically follows that the party must have been wrong.
With congressional Republicans already facing the prospects of huge losses in both houses, there may be quite a few GOP incumbents who are less-than-thrilled about McCain’s chosen campaign theme. If the Republican presidential nominee is telling voters how wrong his own party has been, why should they vote to return their wrong-headed Republican representatives back to office?
If McCain wins in November, it is likely that all will be forgiven, because at least the Republicans will hold the presidency, while the Democrats control both houses of Congress. But if he loses — and the Republicans lose big in Congress — there will certainly be an argument to be made that McCain’s strategy backfired horrifically for the party.