Thursday, April 24, 2008


While the Democrats continue to slog (and slog) it out, McCain's taking the time to burnish his centrist credentials. Seems like independents, as their occupational hazard, are the swing voters in this race. Which Democrat does better with swings? Primary wins are telling. Matt Bai elaborates in a must-read column.

Having regained some force in Pennsylvania, the tornado of insult and innuendo that is the Democratic Party’s nomination fight will now touch down in four more states. But while Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama regroup this week, John McCain is off doing something that, while lacking the same kind of drama, has a significance of its own. Mr. McCain and his advisers decided this week to embark on a tour of some of the places that symbolize the fragility of America’s promise, even if they aren’t the kind of places that Republicans often go: Selma, Ala.; Youngstown, Ohio; New Orleans; Inez, Ky., the Appalachian town where Lyndon Johnson once touted his War on Poverty.

There’s plenty of political artifice here, of course, and Democrats have been quick to deride the tour as a cynical publicity stunt. In a blast e-mail, the Democratic National Committee pointed out, for instance, that Youngstown is far better off today for having received the kind of congressional earmarks that Mr. McCain has vowed to veto if he becomes president. (Now there’s an interesting strategy for the fall: "Vote Democrat, the Party of Pork.”) But Mr. McCain’s hard-luck tour should not be so blithely dismissed, if for no other reason that it may reveal something about his theory of the electorate that presages a break with his party’s recent past.

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