Due to the appropriate amount of attention given to Gov. Palin’s speech last night (just scroll down), there has not been as much focus on Sen. McCain as one might expect. Since the speaker line-up tonight is full of less well known characters (Sen. Martinez (FL), Gov. Crist (FL), Gov. Pawlenty (MN)) than yesterday (Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani), the spot light will entirely be on Sen. McCain.
The reorganized RNC so far has done well to distance the current GOP from President Bush’s policies and to continue to “celebrity” concept on Obama’s lack of substance. The biggest hole left in the convention is a platform of what a McCain-Palin administration would look like.
Sen. McCain may fill that hole. He can talk about vetoing pork and earmarks, as he has before. He will undoubtedly talk about the dangerous times we live in and the importance of his foreign policy knowledge. He needs to talk about economic relief: middle class tax cuts, economic growth, importing prescription drugs, etc. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are well positioned to take a slightly more populist bent toward economic policies than the GOP has recently.
Finally, Sen. McCain should bring one or two new ideas to the podium and make sure the public internalizes them over the next two months. For example, he could elevate his energy policy to a grand theme: All of The Above. The overdone focus on drilling misses the politically stronger policy stance: drilling, exploration, alternative fuels, and nuclear energy. Gov. Palin noted that drilling alone is not the answer; it is part of the answer. The All of The Above energy policy puts the spotlight on Obama to explain why he wouldn’t use all of the options available. McCain has already talked in these terms, but using a large chunk of his speech would associate this policy with him the way ambiguous “change” is associated with Obama.
What are your thoughts on how McCain can win over 55% of Independents and 15% of Democrats? With the party ID gap where it is and the solid support of Republicans steady at over 90%, that’s the end goal.