Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is McCain Planning An October Surprise?

Much of the media think the US election is a done deal. Politicians and newspapers are falling over themselves to throw their weight behind Obama. This may be the new Independence Day for liberal America but both sides know it's not over until the fat lady sings and McCain could spring an October surprise. 

The misguided line taken by much of the Obama supporting media was encapsulated well in yesterday's Guardian. Obama is riding high in the polls, his campaign fund is breaking all records and to top it all, Colin Powell has final come out in support. Victory is now a forgone conclusion, champagne has been ordered and the party invites sent out. 

Sorry to be a party pooper, but all three gleefully seized on by the media were not seized upon by the Obama campaign team. All three show Obama's weaknesses. His campaign team know this and were quick to play them down. 

A lead of 5.8% as shown by the RCP average does not spell victory with 14 days still to go. Al Gore was down by 5.5 points on October 21. Still down on election day, Gore went on to win the election but lost the presidency. By this polling day, it could well be neck and neck.

Swollen campaign funds is not a sign of support, it just means Obama has been much sharper. While both camps signed up to use public funds for the campaign, Obama tore up the agreement and used private funding sources instead, something Obama has admitted, putting him at a huge financial advantage. 

Obama is already on dodgy ground over his private funding which does not come under the same close scrutiny as using taxpayers cash, except funds which are suspected of coming from outside the US. 

Powell's support was greeted with a strange sort of glee by the media. Powell is a dove not a hawk but, as Bush's poodle, he helped take the US and UK to war on a lie and lied to the UN over Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, based on dodgy photographs, discredited yellowcake and a debunked Iraq dossier. 

His support for Obama was seen by some as a black American brotherhood, something Obama has been very careful to avoid and that may galvanise some support for the Republicans. 

Obama's task between now and November 4 is to keep his cool, drive home the simple and consistent message of change and hope and make these remaining undecided voters comfortable with his background. 

Obama has a few tricks up his sleeve to assuage voters, like the publicity stunt taking time out to "visit his sick grandmother" in Hawaii.

McCain of course will try to do the opposite. Make voters feel uneasy and uncomfortable, while casting himself as a safe and trusted pair of hands. This has been drip-fed, ratcheted up and ratcheted down throughout the campaign.

Until recently, it suited McCain to be the underdog. After all, there are two in this Republican marriage and Palin is the attack dog. 

The line of attack on links with ex-domestic terrorist, William Ayers, and other dodgy characters from Obama's Chicago past, may have run their course. 

There's still some mileage left in his links with black power pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but voters can be turned off by too much negative campaigning so close to the finishing line. 

McCain's October surprise will focus on Obama's inexperience, credibility and background, probably all three rolled into one. Sowing the seeds of that unease with the millions of undecided voters to make them throw a wobbly before they finally have to make up their minds. 

What will McCain use as the hook to hang this on? The McCain team is not giving the game away but it may have something to do with Berg's lawsuit over Obama's citizenship which is currently being blocked by Obama and the DNC.

Many think and hope it's a done deal and this election's outcome is set in stone. Both Obama and McCain know that nothing could be further from the truth. 

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