How many homes do you have?

The Politico finally busts John McCain.

Published August 21, 2008 3:49PM (EDT)

Remember all that coverage four years ago of John Kerry and all his homes (Beacon Hill, Nantucket) and how had he married into his money? Hmm ... not much of that this cycle. That dastardly liberal media strikes again.

But, finally, the Politico cornered John McCain:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think -- I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where -- I'll have them get to you."

The correct answer is at least four, located in Arizona, California and Virginia, according to his staff. Newsweek estimated this summer that the couple owns at least seven properties.

Obviously, there is but one logical conclusion we can draw from this: Barack Obama is an out-of-touch elitist.

Update: Reported from the campaign trail today, Obama pounces on McCain's inability to identify how many houses he owns.

"Somebody asked John McCain, 'How many houses do you have?' And he said, 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff,'" Obama said with a tone of incredulousness at an outdoor event here.

"If you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong," he said. "But if you're like me, and you got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, then you might have a different perspective."

Suddenly, laid-back Obama is getting tough. What's that Emily Dickinson said about the wounded deer leaping highest?

Another update: The McCain campaign apparently fails to realize that it would be smarter to let this story just die. Spokesman Brian Rogers just released this rhetorical question: “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?”

Um, actually, yes I think he does. The house ratio is at least 4:1, perhaps as high as 8:1. And at least Obama knows the answer to the question, which is more revealing. This is the equivalent for McCain of George H.W. Bush's infamous supermarket scanner moment.

At each campaign stop, Obama ought to start dipping into the front row of his audiences, say "I have one home," and proceed down the line with the microphone and query five or six people, "How many houses do you have?" The networks would gobble that up. You think Karl Rove or Steve Schmidt wouldn’t instruct George W. Bush or McCain to pull the same type of stunt if the mortgages, so to speak, were on the other tax filing?

Get your calendars and diaries out and mark down today's date: This could be the tipping point when the mantle of "out-of-touch elitist party" began to shift.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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