Presidential campaigns have an almost countless number of surrogates — a dozen or more for every issue, large and small. Today I’ve chatted or exchanged emails with various folks in the Obama campaign. And I’ve been asking them, are these surrogates — the ones for military issues, the one for foreign affairs — are they going to be taking this to John McCain? Sure, they’re going to vouch for Barack Obama and they’ll say the McCain campaign is wrong when they attack him. But are they going to affirmatively go after John McCain — on his history of poor judgment, how little he understands about the foreign policy threats facing the country, how risky it would be to let him become commander-in-chief, his history of voting against veterans’ benefits and then lying about voting against them.
Democrats are used to presidential campaigns that don’t fight back. But really fighting back sucks only slightly less than not fighting back. It’s like being in a war and having your strategy be to defend yourself when the other side attacks you. Or your strategy for winning the world series is dynamite fielding.
Just like in every other kind of battle, you can only have any real hope of winning by taking the initiative and holding it. Not just going on the attack but defining the whole conversation. David Kurtz just interviewed Paul Begala down on the convention floor. And he put it exactly right. This isn’t about answering their attacks. It’s about the Democrats making the McCain folks answer their attacks. So far, I’m not seeing it. But now’s when the election really starts.
Here’s Paul and David …
Paul makes another good point. If this is about the Hillary forces and Obama forces each analyzing each others actions, endlessly ad infinitum, there’s no chance the Democrats are going to do better than just get along. Where these two sides are really going to come together is over making the case against John McCain. He’s the clear and present danger.