McCain Prepares to Reach Out
Earlier this month, I wrote about John McCain’s upcoming political outreach tour. This campaign swing would have McCain visiting urban and rural areas that are not typically considered fruitful electoral ground for Republican presidential nominees. I noted some of the risks involved, but also found it to be an infinitely more interesting (and potentially productive) use of McCain’s time than his earlier attempt to reintroduce himself to the American public, through a personal biography tour. This latter type of campaign trip has become almost a cliché in presidential politics – the idea that we somehow don’t really know a candidate who has already been under the media microscope for the better part of two years, or, in McCain’s case, an entire decade. As I predicted, McCain’s biography tour didn’t get much press beyond the standard campaign coverage, and it was also criticized by some for being overly nostalgic.
Well, the new outreach tour is officially getting underway on Monday, and I’ll be very interested in the level of media coverage it will draw, during a critical week for Democratic primary politics. With the Pennsylvania primary taking place on Tuesday, coverage will reach a fever pitch over the next 72 hours. Toss in the days of political postmortem to follow, and you have to wonder about who will be watching McCain. If the tour encounters a few rough patches along the way, then perhaps having media attention diverted elsewhere would be a good thing from a campaign perspective. But the tour also has the potential to be an important opportunity for a Republican politician to reach across the partisan divide and foster greater dialogue on a variety of policy issues. McCain has demonstrated an aptitude for these kinds of gestures in the past, and, assuming that they are again legitimate, one can only hope that the outreach tour doesn’t go unnoticed.

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