McCain, the Rockies and the "rant"

"He was in a bad place emotionally."

Published October 16, 2007 11:33AM (EDT)

Asked Monday what was more likely -- the Arizona Diamondbacks win the World Series or he wins the White House -- Sen. John McCain said: "Well, in all due respect, I think they're about the same."

The Diamondbacks were down 3-0 to the Colorado Rockies in the National League championship series at the time. They were eliminated, 4-0, last night.

McCain's prognostication comes just as GQ prepares to release an inside look at the slow collapse of his presidential campaign. McCain may yet make a comeback -- if only because the reporters in the mainstream media so badly want it to be so -- but the GQ piece won't help. It describes a campaign marked by unrealistic expectations and out-of-control spending, all led by a moody and mercurial candidate.

It's the "McCain is crazy" stuff of a whisper campaign, only it's coming from some of the senator's own.

Longtime McCain strategist and soulmate John Weaver describes a conversation he had with McCain in July, just before Weaver left the campaign. "He was in a bad place emotionally . . . about the war, about immigration -- both that the legislation had failed and that it had damaged him politically; angry about the campaign; angry about his previous trip to Iraq and the treatment he received from the press. And he was just unhappy . . . So it wasn't a specific complaint. It was a rant."

The next day, McCain reportedly questioned the loyalty of longtime advisor and former speechwriter Mark Salter. A few days after that, he seemed ready to quit the campaign. Salter apparently talked him out of it; later that day, McCain gave what GQ calls a "pep talk" to his campaign staffers, vowing to "out campaign" the rest of the GOP field.

An unidentified "outside advisor" to the campaign tells GQ that McCain panicked as fortunes turned against him. "After all the challenges he's faced," the advisor says, "it's almost like he expected the presidency to be a coronation."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz.