Ask the typical Democratic consultant to describe John McCain, and you'll almost certainly hear the same three words: "Bush's third term." McCain's campaign is clearly aware of the problem, and has taken halfhearted steps to argue that the senator may agree with President Bush on almost everything, but not literally everything.
Has McCain's push-back been effective? It doesn't look like it.
A recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds about two in three Americans concerned that John McCain would pursue policies as president that are too similar to what George W. Bush has pursued. Nearly half -- 49% -- say they are "very concerned" about this.
Indeed, an additional 19 percent identified themselves as "somewhat concerned" about McCain pursuing policies that are "too similar" to Bush's agenda, for a combined 68 percent of Americans who aren't entirely comfortable with the notion of McCain being an agent of much-needed change.
There's an ideological gap here, but a wide swath of the country is clearly worried that McCain will simply be more of the same. Among self-indentified independents, for example, 67 percent are concerned that McCain is too similar to Bush (47 percent are very concerned). Even among Republicans, 45 percent are concerned about McCain offering the country a third Bush term.
The Gallup report added, "Although McCain remains competitive in head-to-head matchups with Obama, the poll suggests that McCain may have more work to do to distance himself from Bush."
That would be an easier task were it not for McCain's record, and his admission, "On the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush."