The presidential campaign of Barack Obama engaged in a little bit of gamesmanship and expectation setting this morning ahead of tonight’s second presidential debate. Obama advisor said that they expect that McCain will launch his nastiest attacks yet, and lie about Obama’s record.
The memo discussed McCain’s desperation to change the subject away from the economy, “John McCain is running out of time for a game-changing event. In the latest sign of desperation, his campaign admitted just yesterday that if they “keep talking about the economic crisis, they’re going to lose.” It’s our view that the American people are already worried about losing – their homes, their jobs and their health care – and it’s up to the candidates at this debate to demonstrate who is best equipped to make sure that they can get ahead again.”
The Obama camp brought up McCain’s nasty attacks and the turn the page strategy, “In order to change the dynamics of this race, we anticipate that McCain will launch his nastiest attacks and continue to lie about Barack Obama’s record and his vision to fundamentally change our country. We don’t know if McCain will continue his refusal to even look at Obama on stage — like in their first debate — but we fully expect that his “turn the page” strategy to ignore the economy will be seen in full view for 90 minutes of character attacks against Barack Obama.”
They also played the expectations game stressing that Obama is the underdog, and that this is McCain’s favorite format, “When it comes to sheer format, we enter today’s debate the decided underdog. John McCain does extremely well in town hall settings. It’s been his favorite format throughout his career and we think that he will of course do very well.”
Here is what this memo is really saying, we hope that John McCain continues to attack us all night and ignore the issues, because this strategy makes him look like an angry old man who doesn’t want to talk about the economy. However, for those of you watching at home tonight, we want you to judge the candidates based on what they say about the economy. McCain is strong in this format, but so is Obama. Just in case though, we need to lower expectations in case our guy has an off night.
While this memo is fun to read, it is political spin. Personally, I don’t think McCain will bring much of the character attack strategy with him tonight. I suspect that his focus will be on using his biography to connect with the audience and he will stress leadership in a time of crisis. His campaign isn’t based on policy, so I doubt that there will be many specifics offered. In contrast, Obama only needs to keep doing what he has been working. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.