It's been a tough week for John McCain. He declared the fundamentals of the economy strong, only to declare them at risk. One aide, trying to stress McCain's record on economic progress, suggested the senator helped invent the blackberry.
Broadly, the deepening crisis on Wall Street has the potential to favor Democrat Barack Obama. All recent polling suggests when it comes to handling the economy, voters give higher marks to Democrats. Meanwhile, Obama has an easier time pushing for tighter regulations on Wall Street — since McCain has been a longtime fan of deregulation.
Give this state of play, it was no surprise when some of McCain's top advisers — Steve Schmidt, Mark Salter and Nicolle Wallace — paid a visit to the press cabin today for a message offensive.
"You look at the poll numbers," Schmidt said, with Salter and Wallace by his side. "We remain in a very close contest."
Schmidt previewed the aggressive message we should expect from McCain in coming days, as he tries to pummel Obama over Wall Street's woes. Schmidt summarized that message this way:
"Obama's notion of reform on these issues and change is a rhetorical device used to advance his political agenda. But he's got no record of reform. He's got no record of leadership really on any issue."
Schmidt also accused Obama of playing on the anxiety of Americans for political gain.
"I think as the American people prepare to make their choice in this election," Schmidt said, "they're likely to give consideration to the fact that the Obama campaign is cheer-leading this crisis."
The advisers spoke as McCain and running mate Sarah Palin did a "Rapid" tour, flying from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This caused some confusion.
"Thank you so much Iowa," Palin said as she began her remarks in Cedar Rapids. "It is so good to be here in Grand Rapids."