New McCain ad touts “original mavericks”

With the addition of Sarah Palin to his ticket, John McCain is repositioning himself yet again; this time, trying to return to his roots.

Topics: 2008 Elections, Sarah Palin, War Room, John McCain, R-Ariz.,

John McCain’s campaign is clearly trying very hard to reclaim the mantle the Arizona senator once cherished, but has slowly lost over the course of this election cycle: maverick. That much was obvious just watching the video used to introduce McCain at the Republican convention last week. Most of the sentences in it were, if you’ll pardon the expression, composed of a noun, a verb and the word “maverick.”

Now, the McCain camp’s latest ad hits the message home, hard. Released Monday, the spot’s titled “Original Mavericks.” It’ll reportedly run on national cable and in battleground states.

There are a couple of notable things in the ad. First, it makes a carefully narrow case for Sarah Palin having opposed the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” As we all know by now, Palin supported the bridge before she opposed it. The right has been mostly ignoring that inconvenient truth, but this ad uses only a limited claim, though it’s still a debatable one: “She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere.”

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The other interesting thing about the spot is the degree to which it seeks to separate the ticket from the Republican Party. At one point, the narrator says, “He battled Republicans and reformed Washington. She battled Republicans and reformed Alaska.” That point is reinforced repeatedly by newspaper headlines shown at the bottom of the screen that depict the two fighting with the party and, in McCain’s case, with President Bush. In fact, if you’d woken up from a coma and watched the ad, you might well think McCain and Palin were Democrats — there’s nothing in it to suggest otherwise.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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