John McCain ran against George W. Bush in 2000 and apparently considered doing so again in 2004. But now, with his poll numbers dropping and his fundraising efforts turning up something less than all that, the one-time GOP maverick seems to be deciding that the way to the White House is to make himself more like the current occupant.
As the New York Times' Adam Nagourney reports this morning, McCain is delaying the formal announcement of his candidacy on the heels of first-quarter fundraising efforts that weren't nearly as successful as Mitt Romney's or Rudy Giuliani's.
Nagourney says McCain will use the extra time to try to get his groove back. How? The one-time leader on campaign-finance reform will be adopting the big-donor-centered fundraising system that Bush used. And the one-time critic of the Iraq war will continue to press his claim that the United States is making progress in Iraq -- "turning a corner," anyone? -- with a speech next week at the Virginia Military Institute.
Former California state Sen. Jim Brulte, who endorsed McCain this week, tells USA Today that the campaign's new approach just reflects the reality of McCain's situation. "He basically ran an insurgency campaign in 2000, and he's got to run an establishment campaign in 2008," Brulte said. "They are fundamentally different ... and the level of expectations is different."