August 25th, 2008
07:28 PM ET

McCain's having a little fun

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.mccain.yankee2.jpg caption=" Sen. John McCain and Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee waves as they board the Straight Talk Air campaign charter airplane in Phoenix, Ariz., Monday."]

Ed Henry
CNN White House Correspondent

Presidential candidates usually keep a low-profile during the other guy's convention, but not John McCain. He's trying here in his home state to stay relevant to what's happening in Denver at the Democratic National Convention.

The strategy behind McCain skipping the usual R&R is pretty clear: The latest CNN/Opinion Research poll shows this race is much closer frankly than either side expected to be in a sour year for Republicans, so Team McCain wants to keep the heat on Barack Obama.

"If you had told me two months ago that we'd be dead even heading into the Democratic National Convention, I would have told you were crazy," one McCain adviser told me.

So McCain advisers say their goal is to do all they can to hold Obama's convention "bounce" in the polls down to a minimum, so he could head into St. Paul next week with some real momentum. They think the best way to do that is to drive a deeper wedge between Obama and Hillary Clinton.

It started over the weekend, when Obama picked Joe Biden instead of Clinton as his running mate. McCain's camp quickly released a TV ad entitled "Passed Over," trying to stoke the already-simmering anger among Clintonites who feel she got a raw deal. Now the Republican National Committee has another ad pouring more gasoline on the fire.

"Who has the experience to govern our nation?" the narrator begins, before cutting to an old clip from Clinton during the tense Democratic primary season. "Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign," Clinton says in the clip. "I will bring a lifetime of experience, and Senator Obama will bring a speech he gave in 2002."

For the record, Clinton insists she's miffed by the barrage of ads. "I'm Hillary Clinton and I do not approve that message," Clinton told members of the New York delegation Monday, playing off the tag line of all campaign ads these days.

But McCain keeps churning the ads out anyway, including one featuring a disillusioned Clinton delegate from Wisconsin who says she's now voting Republican for the first time. "I respect his maverick and independent streak, and now he's the one with the experience and judgment," she says of McCain. "A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's okay, really!"

While his ads are going for the jugular, McCain is trying to project a positive image with easy photo-ops during the Democratic festivities. After promising a press conference on Monday, McCain aides instead rolled out a - dare I use the word - celebrity endorsement. It was a Latin recording star, "Daddy Yankee," who's so popular he literally sent the female students shrieking at a mostly Latino high school in nearby Phoenix.

"One of his most famous songs, I know you're very familiar with - 'Gasolina'," McCain said of a song that it's a safe bet he did not know too much about until recently. Let's face it, Daddy Yankee is not your typical McCain voter (based on the scantily-clad ladies in his music videos).

But the point is McCain is having a little fun, while Democrats are fretting about whether they're on the verge of blowing an historic opportunity. That’s why the Republican was planning to spend Monday night on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." A good chance to have a few laughs, and if McCain could reach out to some supporters of Hillary Clinton along the way - well that's a nice little bonus.

Filed under: Ed Henry • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Ram Riva

    McAin is not proposing anything new!, all he does, is attack everything that moves...
    In the hope that hard liners will like it, and the undecided turn around to see him....
    In the end, everything is going to come down to this;
    Two candidates, one young and the other extremely old, agreeing on most of the issues...
    So who would you pick?...
    Even McAin agrees that the country needs change, can he deliver?
    We don't think so, not with the republicans....
    During the Democratic Convention he's showing his desperation to move ahead in the polls, eventhough this election has already been lost, by the republican's lack of credibility...
    McAin's time to become President of the United States, came and went, 20 years ago...

    August 26, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Lesli

    We reap what we sow.

    When Clinton said Obama brought only a speech he made in 2002 as experience to his run for the White House she was right. Now she takes it back by not supporting the ad.

    I love Clinton and wish she'd won, but this really irks me that she now thinks Obama is ready to be president because he's a democrat..

    I cannot believe that so many intelligent Americans are won over by sweet talk about change. What change. Change for the sake of change is not a campaign stratagy. Its a recipe for disaster.

    Will Obama ever define "The Change" and how he intends to implement it. That's what he fails to adress.

    Lay it out for us so we can make an informed decision. I don't want nuances. I want facts, figures, plans, campaigns and details.

    This campaign convention should be hitting me between the eyes with it and last night fell a good distance short.

    August 26, 2008 at 10:40 am |
  3. csc jonesville

    We need all clinton whiners and mccain's mindless followers to hold hands and follow the pied piper(mccain) and be lead to the complete destruction of the USA.There are many that has no idea about politics,the issues and whats best for our country(OBAMA)only thing to see for those people is they are not the same complexion.We that vote on the issues feels better,the small minded people says hit why the iron is hot is so shallowed minded.If you are still crying about hillary go ahead get it all out and then jump aboard with the next president(OBAMA).Put a smile on your face.

    August 26, 2008 at 10:07 am |
  4. Kent, Illinois

    Down at the local diner McCain would fit in easily.........cracking jokes and talking about his past and the war, and the war, and the war, and the war.........lol.

    The lastest ads we all knew would come out using foolish things that everyone has said......the Dems will do it right back. I do think it is irritating that during the Dem convention we have to sit and listen to Repub loving people give us the play by play and cut down the convention. C'mon CNN. Get rid of the GOP anchors. Tonight we will hear the Clinton's attack the GOP. Go get em Bill..........

    August 26, 2008 at 9:10 am |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    McCain thinks it's funny that he has 7 houses and 7 tables and compares that to trying help people save their homes and says that has nothing to do with the issues. McCain is not out of touch as much as he is self serving and shows little if any empathy for the struggling average families. McCain is sickening and not a good choice for the American people.

    August 26, 2008 at 9:09 am |
  6. Pat

    All you Obama haters can join the pundits and waste your time trying to make the greatest blessing that has ever been bestowed upon America (Obama) seem like a disadvantage and sling the mud every chance you get. But it's not going to get you where you want to go!

    We Democrats are going to be spending our time revelling in the joy of a new dawn led by a man who knows what leadership entails. We are going to revel in looking forward to prosperity, unity, equality and a brighter future for all!

    But please feel free to march on with your swords, your hate, revenge, and contempt against that which you know nothing about – Democracy and Love for Fellow Man. God Bless Ted Kennedy and family and bring him a full and speedy recovery.

    August 26, 2008 at 8:50 am |
  7. John

    Gee its real funny the Democratic convention looked real united to me
    but it seem like some Hillary supporters(REPO's) Republicans in the UBLICAN

    August 26, 2008 at 5:58 am |
  8. Nathaniel Franklin

    A vote for John McCain is a vote for World War III . With Russia flexing its mussels in Georgia, America building Defense Systems in Poland and stockpilling in Italy , a senile old war monger like McCain has not patience for diplomacy with his short temperment, and like Bush he will lunch the Us and its 40 member NATO alliance into World war III.

    As for the Econnamy, did anyone hear John McCain say that " he had no ideal on how to address the problem with the Ecconnamy" just let it ride it will be ok.

    Aside from being like Bush, lets not forget that Ronald Ragen was beleaved to have hade Alzhiemers before he left office, did anyone notice that John McCain has a problem remembering. He couldn't remember how many houses he had, nor could he remember who the US militery was fighting, so how will that effect his decision making capabilities. Let's send John McCain home for a rest, hes already served his country for 71 years, he needs a rest.

    August 26, 2008 at 1:12 am |
  9. RK

    To all the embittered Hillary supporters :

    If McCain wins - and there is no way on this god's green earth he will win other than with the support of peole like you guys - here are some things that you , and all of us , should know

    1. He will have the same impact on the Supreme Court makeup that Hillary would have (NOT)
    2. He will bring about the same changes as her on healthecare (NOT)
    3. He will give the middle class some tax relief as opposed to the super rich (NOT)

    I could go on...but I guess that your slights , imagined and real are more important than the future of this country

    Good luck in 2012 if Obama loses in 2012.... and better start writing that long explanation of how one persons ambition cost us a chance of a lifetime

    August 26, 2008 at 12:21 am |
  10. Dorothy, Sea Cliff Ny

    I am sorry- but to clarify things a bit, it is the Clintons who inserted race into the debate not Obama (from the white working class comments to endless others). I was a Clinton supporter (voted for both of them in past elections) and was turned off by the way she ran this campaign. McCain's use of her comments to divide the party further is just more evidence in how low the Clintons will go! I hope any Hillary supporters who vote for McCain keep their mouths shut when everything their candidate supposedly believed in goes down the toilet.

    August 25, 2008 at 11:54 pm |
  11. Dennis

    Why did Biden drop out of the Primary so soon? Is he not POTUS material in event something happens to the other guy?

    August 25, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  12. Duke

    Daddy Yankee... Oh Lord. Why do people insist on voting against their own (family, etc) economic interests?

    'Cause speaking of "Gasolina" we all know who has raised the price of gasolina... so much so that it has become prohibitive for your own PR brothers and sisters to get some in the car to get to work.

    Yankee... I will pray for you. I pray that you will meet up with Sean Paul and he will just "give you the light". Oh.. yes.. I did just go there.

    August 25, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  13. Susan

    Senator McCain does not have to drive a wedge between Senator Clinton voters and Senator Obama, it is already there. The DNC did a great job of that already.


    August 25, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  14. Cortez

    Because of the McCain ads is the exact reason why Obama could not chose Hillary. Yep Biden said some things against Obama but Hillary has said a whole lot more and far more worse than what Biden have said.

    So to have her on the ticket would not only hurt Obama but hurt the whole ticket as well and I dont think that Obama supporters would have support Hillary in 2012 if Obama lose

    August 25, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  15. Annie Kate

    McCain's ads are pretty sharp using Hillary's own words from her ads and campaign speeches against Obama – but legally shouldn't the McCain campaign have gotten permission from Hillary to use her words, etc – for copyright purposes? Or does this not apply to political ads?

    This is going to be a really close race I think. A squeaker of a victory in the end – McCain has a busy few months ahead of him. Glad he is taking advantage of every second he has.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 25, 2008 at 9:19 pm |
  16. annu

    Obama has learned from the English the theory of divide and rule and that is what he has done to DNC but these so called intelligent DNC boses do not get it because they want to create history (first Black President) but are not interested in creating the best country in the world.

    August 25, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
  17. Annette

    Are you kidding me? Daddy Yankee, that's all he's got? That's the most pathetic endorsement I have ever seen. Did they forget that fourteen-year-olds can't vote?

    Oh well, in a few short months this will all be over, and hopefully we will never have to hear the words "My Friends" again.

    August 25, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  18. Jim ,

    In over 130 years nothing has changed in politics- Back in 1880 the Democrat Senator James Fair was out with his " Sack Bearers " paying $40.00 for votes to beat Republican Senator William Sharon
    out of his Senate seat.
    The Tabliod has Michelle Obama & Hillary Clinton Hating each other
    & why Hillary was not picked for V.P. ( Also We voters have good memories & well remember White Water & Monica Gate & Bill lieing through his teeth.) The Question is not am I better off than 8 years ago but since 2 years ago when the DEMOCRATS got contol on Congress. I was doing Great until then.

    August 25, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  19. laila

    give it 2 weeks his fun will be over.

    August 25, 2008 at 8:11 pm |
  20. Robert

    The problem with the democrats isn't Hillary or Biden its Obama. He ran a divisive primary campaign labeling the Clinton's as racist. Now he can't unite his own party. Democrats should of nominated a leader not an empty suit with a pretty face.

    August 25, 2008 at 8:10 pm |
  21. Sandy

    I agree . . . and I think that deep inside Hillary must feel a little bit vindicated, regardless of the face she's maintaining in the interest of party unity. Good for her, and good for McCain's camp in letting the democrats attack the democrats in his ads.

    August 25, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  22. Cindy

    Hey...you know what they say...you've gotta hit while the iron is hot. McCain is in a dead heat with Obama so he can't rest on his laurels. It is OK to have some fun ya know!

    And about the ads...well McCain didn't force Hillary to say any of that stuff. She said it on her own and meant it when she said it. So kudos to him for using it.


    August 25, 2008 at 7:36 pm |