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Panel on McCain's Strategy Shift

Panel on McCain's Strategy Shift

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - October 13, 2008

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": McCain is an impressive character, Palin is an attractive and impressive character. Why isn't Sarah Palin on this boarding (ph) instead of Rick Davis? It is ridiculous. It is malpractice.

MCCAIN: My friends, we have got them just where we want them. What America needs in this hour is a fighter, someone who puts all his cards on the table and trusts the judgment of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, there are two decidedly different views of the state of the McCain campaign, although not perhaps of the state of the race. McCain acknowledges he is down. He said in the same comments he is down six percentage points. Some polls have it higher or lower a little bit.

But Bill Kristol reiterated his argument that the McCain campaign deserves to be fired in "The New York Times" this morning, and later again here today on FOX News.

So what about this? Mort, your thoughts on this condition of the McCain campaign, which, by the way, appears to be trying to link Barack Obama in a way he previously wasn't doing to the none too popular, at least nationally, leaders of the Democratic Party in congress.

KONDRACKE: I'm amazed that--Fred Barnes--calls them the "three amigos," Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. And going after them, it seems to me, is a perfectly logical thing to do because there will be a lot more trial lawyer, union free running than there has been in the past.

Bill Kristol is clearly right about Sarah Palin. Why they are containing Sarah Palin, locking her up or putting her out only on the stump speeches, I do not know.

But this idea that McCain fire the whole campaign, what would that look like? That would look like desperation. It would look like a Hail Mary. It would look irascible and all that. So that's not going to work.

What we saw today was the happy warrior John McCain. And he will come out tomorrow with more economic proposals, and that's the positive vision that he has needed all along. I hope that could bring him back-- that, plus a few more days of a thousand point rallies on the stock market, maybe.

LIASSON: To give Bill his due, he was actually proposing something even more radical--not just fire the campaign, but just go back to this incredibly--change his whole tactics, have town meetings everyday and answer questions from the press.

It's frustrating. What McCain has been trying to do, and he has been trying to do a lot of things, just hasn't been working.

Now it is possible against this incredible tsunami of bad economic news which favors the Democrats, nothing would work, but certainly what he has been doing hasn't.

And maybe he has to throw his cards up in the air, which he has proved perfectly capable of doing more than once, and just do something completely radical, and instead of hammering away at Obama's associations, which might be legitimate, but they still aren't working, maybe try something different.

It's hard for me to imagine what exactly he could do to turn this around.

KRAUTHAMMER: I disagree. I think he swerved and he flinched. It is a Democratic year. The way you are going to win against an unknown newcomer is to run as he did originally, on leadership and character, and on being the one who represents country.

And that implies the other guy is not as good of a leader, the other guy has a flawed character, and the other guy puts ambition ahead of country.

That's what he said in St. Paul, but now he got intimidated. There were a couple of yahoos in the crowd, three or four or five in crowds of ten thousand, who yelled epithets. The press has picked it up and all of a sudden associated McCain with that, accused him of inciting hatred, et cetera, and he flinched.

Here is a press that accuses him of guilt by association with people he has never met and says that any association of Obama with Jeremiah Wright or Rezko or Ayers, with whom he has a close association, is illegitimate and, in fact, is a sign of racism and low politics.

And McCain has bought that. He shouldn't.

HUME: What about this effort to, and it's happening in the ads now, you're seeing, though no on the stump speech so much, of linking Obama to the other two amigos to quote Mort quoting Fred?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's legitimate.

HUME: Do you think it will work better than what he has been doing? Do you think it will work better than linking him to Rezko, Ayers, and Wright?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, linking him to the congressional leadership, I think, ought to be added in the recipe.

But the idea of not challenging Obama on character and on associations, unsavory associations, is a mistake. And McCain has unilaterally disarmed on this.

LIASSON: Yes. I think that this might be one of the few times where you could tap into America's tendencies to like divided government. It would be a tough call, but it does mean the Democrats will control all three branches--

HUME: If Obama counts and links McCain to Bush, it would seem to be fair play for McCain to link him to Reid and Pelosi.

LIASSON: Not only it is completely fair--but the question is would it have an effect? And it might.

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