Part of a winning strategy is to sap the opponent's will to win. You can do that by exaggerating the difficulties of victory and diminishing the value to him. You can also take the fight closer to his home base, making him defend territory he is not used to have to fight for. Or, you can just tire him out, if he is older.
McCain is showing signs of not having the stomach for protracted battle in the homestretch. Politico says:
After a rigorous primary election schedule, the Arizona senator was "down" on nearly every Saturday and Sunday between the time he clinched the nomination in February and June, Politico reported this summer. And since accepting his party’s nomination on Sept. 4, McCain has taken off at least one day each weekend. He held no public events last weekend, and will keep the same schedule this weekend.
Obama, on the other hand, has taken only two weekend days off in the last month.
The article notes that Obama too, has averaged just one campaign event per day. But each of those events attract about 20,000 listeners, who then are send out to canvass and register voters. McCain events tend to be smaller town-halls because that is what he is comfortable with.
Of course, McCain is much older, so might need to rest weekends. Also, it is Sarah Palin who is drawing the crowds for the Republican ticket, so it makes sense to keep McCain well-rested. With his erratic behavior, it might be sensible to minimize his public exposure.
Back in 1932, Herbert Hoover was pelted with rotten tomatoes at campaign events and had to retreat to the White House. McCain is not quite there yet, but as resentment about the economy grows, he could yet get pelted with rotten tomatoes.
Still you have to wonder how badly the old boy wants to win. So far he has suspended the National Campaign once. Announced that he is pulling out of MI, apparently without adequately consulting Palin or the MI Republicans. His erratic behavior during the financial crisis could be explained by sheer exhaustion. His crankiness at the last debate and with the Iowa Newspaper could also be due to campaign fatigue.
Does McCain have what it takes for the home stretch of this Marathon? He is not sprinting this stretch for sure. And he is not husbanding his energies wisely. What was he doing in Iowa, a place that is definitely in going for Obama? Why is he not preparing for the debate in a contested state instead of in AZ, his home state? Surely one of the 13 homes Cindy McCain owns is in a contested state?
What do you do when your opponent shows signs of exhaustion? Keep just a few steps ahead of him, saving energy for a last minute sprint? Taunt him with a display of raw energy? Throw out an expensive strategy that he has no hope of equalling? This was what Reagan did with Star Wars, against the tired and decrepit Soviet Union. And it did them in.
Obama's equivalent would be an escalation of Television ads. Since he has to fight with a smaller budget, McCain will not be able to respond. This weekend, even before the character assassination began, Obama came out with an ad painting McCain as erratic and out of ideas.
Obama could simply press his advantage on the economy. McCain has no effective defense or counter-attack. As the McCain campaign starts throwing mud, Obama can keep the focus on McCain by bringing up his own unsavory past with the Keating Five.
ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!
Obama could also do the unexpected. Hold a campaign event in Sedona Arizona, near where McCain retreats every weekend. There are enough Obama supporters in AZ to attract a crowd even there. In any case more will show up if the word gets out. The purpose will not be to win AZ. But to make McCain realize that he has nowhere left to go.
Then again we just might win AZ! Wouldn't that be sweet? As Obama said about Nebraska the other day.
Out of touch, Out of ideas, and Running Out of Time
With just 30 days to go until Election Day, Obama told a crowd of some 28,000 people at a high school football stadium here that his rival was attacking him with smears because he had no ideas and was “running out of time.”
The senator said the McCain campaign wanted to "turn the page" on the discussion about the economy and spend the last month of the campaign launching "Swiftboat-style attacks" on him.
His comments came as the McCain campaign continued to link him with '60s radical William Ayers. Yesterday, Sarah Palin accused Obama of palling around "with terrorists who target their own country."
Rather than responding directly to Palin, Obama tried to appear above what he has called petty distractions and promised to keep his focus on "the issues."
”Sen. McCain and his operatives are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance," he said. "They’d rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up. That’s what you do when you’re out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time."
UPDATE 2 8 point national lead on pollster.com average.