Senator John McCain shrugged aside daunting poll figures on Sunday to claim he was placed to win next week’s presidential election even as an inquest was beginning within the Republican Party.
Interviewed on NBC’s Meet the Press, McCain dismissed the polls that showed huge leads for Senator Barack Obama and said he sensed the race tightening.
He predicted a “late night” next Tuesday, suggesting the voting would be close enough to have to wait for the final counts in some states: “This has been a very close race, and I believe I will win it.”
But in a sign of how much of a mismatch the campaign has become, Obama, speaking on Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico — won in 2004 by US President George W. Bush — attracted a crowd of 45,000. McCain, speaking in the same city the same day drew only about 1,500 onlookers.
Some Republicans, breaking with the convention of staying silent until the votes are in, are already dissecting his campaign strategy and acknowledging openly they believe the race to be lost.
A blame-game has begun among McCain staff over responsibility for strategic blunders, in particular the confused and often conflicting messages the campaign has sent out over the past two months.
At McCain’s campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, demoralized staff and volunteers listened in near-silence to invocations from senior campaign figures saying all was not lost over the weekend.
David Frum, Bush’s speechwriter, who wrote the “Axis of Evil” speech, suggested in an opinion piece for the Washington Post on Sunday that the party shifted resources from the presidential race “that is almost certainly lost” to Senate ones so that there would be a base on which to build a Republican revival after the election.
“A beaten party needs a base from which to recover,” Frum wrote.
Mark McKinnon, a former McCain campaign adviser, wrote for the Daily Beast Web site: “The most popular parlor game in Washington DC these days is the bludgeoning of the McCain campaign.”
McKinnon said the McCain strategist Steve Schmidt, said to be behind the character attacks on Obama, and colleagues, had run a good campaign and “taken McCain further than he had any reasonable right to, given the political climate.”
He said the election “ain’t over yet” and that McCain might “have a couple of barrel rolls left.”
McCain now faces an important decision on the final days of the campaign.
If he does assume he will lose he may want to be remembered as having fought a dignified race in the end — or he could throw everything at Obama.
On Sunday he pounced on a Reuters/Zogby poll which put him only 5 points behind Obama (who is on 49 percent), saying that was evidence that the race was closer than indicated by other polls giving Obama double-digit leads.
Obama picked up on a comment by McCain on Meet the Press, in which he had said he shared a common philosophy with Bush.
Speaking in Denver, Obama, who has sought to tie McCain down as a continuation of Bush, said: “I guess that was John McCain finally giving us a little straight talk, and owning up to the fact that he and George Bush actually have a whole lot in common.”
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference