The Clinton strategy — for McCain?

Two writers for the conservative National Review exhort the presumptive Republican nominee to adopt Hillary Clinton's strategy in campaigning against Barack Obama.

Topics: 2008 Elections, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, War Room, John McCain, R-Ariz., National Review,

Republicans have been grumbling for a little while, saying that John McCain’s campaign is adrift. McCain shook up his staff earlier this month in response to the concerns. Now, a leading conservative magazine is suggesting McCain do what would seem unthinkable for a Republican: Imitate Hillary Clinton.

In a new article in the National Review, Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru argue that McCain’s campaign is “likely to fail” on its current course.

“If [McCain] wants to win, he has to leave his comfort zone. He should take a page from Hillary Clinton. She did not, of course, defeat Obama, but she road-tested a strategy that cost him support among crucial constituencies — and that strategy is even better suited to McCain’s general-election run than it was to her primary campaign,” the pair write.

The strategy involves following Clinton’s playbook from the latter half of her primary run: painting herself as a working-class warrior, vigorously attacking Obama and highlighting his inexperience on national security (remember the 3 a.m. phone call ad?). Like Clinton, Lowry and Ponnuru believe McCain can peel away whites without college degrees, and some Hispanics, from Obama.

In a way, the advice makes sense. Clinton’s strategy was effective against Obama after February. She rolled up important victories in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas that left Obama’s campaign off balance, and Obama managed to hold her off largely because he had already built up a narrow cushion of pledged delegates.



The question is whether McCain could effectively deploy such a strategy. This seems to be where the article is on shakier ground. McCain has a fighter’s temperament like Clinton and can easily contrast his national security experience with Obama’s, but he has an Achilles’ heel. As an unnamed political reporter argued to the Politico’s Jonathan Martin, McCain lacks the Clinton brand when it comes to the economy. Remember, Clinton surged late in the primary season in large measure because she seemed able to connect with working-class voters’ pain on the economy better than Obama did. McCain — by his own admission — is no economic expert, and his policies, especially on taxes, are slanted more toward the wealthy than the working class. Then there’s the fact that, by a solid margin, voters say they trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle the economy. No matter how many shots he takes, it will likely prove difficult for McCain to channel his inner Hillary in this regard.

Justin Jouvenal is an editorial fellow at Salon and a graduate student in journalism at New York University.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>