Time is running out for John McCain’s campaign. He is behind in the polls and the gap is widening. His campaign has decided to shut up shop in Michigan, a state it recently believed it could win. Tuesday’s televised debate with Barack Obama – just one more encounter is scheduled, on October 15 – has therefore assumed an even greater significance. Mr McCain must stop the rot. His disadvantages in the race are such that it is difficult now to see how.
Mr McCain finds himself in a curious position. He entered the race as an experienced and well-known candidate, much-liked, with years in the Senate behind him. He was running against a virtually unknown novice, with barely any legislative achievements to boast of – and a black man with a funny name, to boot. Mr McCain was the known quantity, the safer choice, literally the elder statesman and Mr Obama had everything to prove. Yet with four weeks to go, the election is being run by both sides as though the opposite were true.
Mr Obama looks unhurried and presidential, exuding natural authority. He is running as though he were the popular incumbent. Meanwhile, the eager Mr McCain dashes to and fro, hoping to shake things up, striving for attention with one daring stroke after another.
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