Analyst on McCain's Weakness: He's Republican.


This weekend, news reports indicate Sen. John McCain will be interviewing vice presidential candidates at his ranch in Sedona, Arizona. Eric Thayer/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Eric Thayer/Getty Images

In a snapshot of the Sen. John McCain — whose campaign has drawn less scrutiny in recent weeks due to the prolonged race for the Democratic presidential nomination — Politico's John Martin says there's one big problem for the Arizona senator and presumptive White House nominee.

"John McCain is a well-known figure in this country," Martin says. The downside of that fame? "It's the R after his last name."

McCain staffers say the public sees McCain as a supporter of President George Bush. With the president's approval ratings at historic lows, that perception is a liability for McCain. "He can still be defined as a conservative, Bush-supporting Republican," Martin says, "and the Democrats will emphatically try to do this."

The lawmaker still has a lot going for him, Martin says, even for Americans who'd otherwise never consider voting for GOP candidate. McCain spent years as prisoner of war in Vietnam. In a time of peril at home and abroad, he has reams of official experience with foreign affairs and the military. His name is also attached to groundbreaking campaign finance reform that required hand-shaking across party lines.

The strategy for McCain hinges on winning over voters outside the traditional Republican base. "They recognize that he needs to go out and pick up independents, perhaps even some of those Reagan Democrats, and bring them back into the fold," Martin says.

The senator's age will also be a factor — he's 71 — as will his 25 years on Capitol Hill.

"It's very easy for [Sen. Barack] Obama, running on a change mantra, to paint McCain as a Washington status quo," Martin says.



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