A McCain Head-Fake?
You may have caught the buzz over the past few days that John McCain would announce his vice presidential running mate later this week, in order to step on the wall-to-wall media coverage of Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe. When I first heard this idea floated, it immediately struck me as implausible. Even if the McCain campaign’s vetters have already produced a serious short-list of finalists, I don’t yet get the sense that McCain himself has taken the close look necessary for him to make an informed final selection. Still, the conflicting and ambiguous signs emanating from the McCain campaign’s orbit were sufficient to generate a fair bit of media coverage of the possibility.
Perhaps the McCain campaign views this head-fake as humorous payback for what it sees as fawning press coverage of the Obama trip. Whatever the campaign’s motivation, it also struck me that this week was supposed to be about Republican counter-programming on domestic issues like the economy, health care, and energy. But virtually all of the news coverage of McCain over the past few days has been about either his response to Obama’s comments on the surge in Iraq, or his pending vice presidential pick. So, while the McCain campaign is having some short-term success in garnering additional news coverage for its candidate this week, the campaign needs to ask itself whether, in doing so, it is helping or hindering McCain in his attempt to get the coverage he needs.

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