Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Best advice to both Dem campaigns: go after McCain

So, what now?

Clinton and Obama could both go negative on each other in an attempt to prove that one or the other simply doesn't have what it takes to be President. But, at this point, such a strategy will only increase both their negatives and make the job for the GOP that much easier in the Fall.

But neither Clinton or Obama can close the deal by arguing that they are the better Democrat. Many Dems like Clinton. Many Dems like Obama. If that dynamic hasn't broken by now then I don't think it will ever break. This thing is a true deadlock.

So what is left for the candidates to differentiate themselves on?

Answer: John McCain. Specifically, who would do the best job of defeating McCain and the GOP. And the best way for them to do this is to run their campaigns focused on defeating McCain rather than defeating each other.

This would have two bonuses. It would bloody McCain and it would unite Dems.

(1) Bloody McCain for the Fall. The media is going to pay a lot more attention to Obama/Clinton than they are to McCain because the story is just more interesting. Dems should take advantage of that by making the focus of the rest of the campaign how Dems would be better than McCain, regardless of who we nominate.

Of course, this would require both Clinton and Obama to avoid at all costs any suggestion that McCain would be better than either Dem on any issue. Clinton's statement about her experience vs. Obama's one speech is fine. It was when she talked favorably about McCain's experience that she went over the line.

Obama also has to play it carefully when he says that Clinton and McCain's experience led them to making the wrong choice on Iraq. Even if true, it still feeds into the idea that McCain might be an acceptable alternative to Clinton.

(2) Unite the Dems. Nothing rallies the forces like attacking the Republicans. A closing Dem campaign that focuses all of its heat on McCain would do just that. Furthermore, the more they attack McCain the less they will be attacking each other and the less they will be sewing the seeds of ill will among Democratic activists.

A Dem campaign where both candidates focus their attention on McCain would be a dress rehearsal for the Fall. It would be the last test Dem voters would need to decide which candidate would be their best representative.

And frankly, it would just be a lot more fun to watch.

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