Diary

How McCain can dominate the last debate

McCain still needs a game-changing performance in the debate to change the course of this campaign towards a McCain-Palin victory. Most everyone on this web site probably watched the debates thus far, felt McCain clobbered Obama, but the fact remains the polls have not reflected that. McCain could continue as he has been, be right, and still not win this election. I certainly do not advocate that he change what he is about, but what’s missing is a game changer. The debate truly is his last opportunity for a game changer as it will be the last time he gets the audience this large.

McCain realizes this. He came out swinging in the last debate with a proposal for the government to adjust the principal on bad mortgages. It was an idea in the mold of a “big proposal”, and it may even be good policy, but electorally the move is a dud. It may not hurt him, but its going to strike a lot of people as unfair and rewarding bad behaviors, and it obviously did not blow people away. Even those who would benefit from it might not trust him on the details, so it was not a game changer. The pundits, though I will grant they are already prejudiced against McCain, barely even mentioned it.

So what does a gamechanger look like? Its got to be something that hits a populist chord, is based on conservative principles, and is something that can be readily understood by everybody. Why? Because something based on conservative principles is something Obama will not match or compete with, because major new proposals that are not populist do not shift electorates, and if its readily understood people can buy into it.

With that said McCain should do 3 things in this debate which are game changers:GAME CHANGER #1: McCain should propose an across the board investment tax credit of $1000/year per American taxpayer where the money can be invested in any American business on the market that employs American workers. Perhaps those businesses employing more American workers could be eligible for more investment. You keep the money in the market for a 5 year minimum, then you can sell, or reinvest. This gives all Americans a stake in the American economy.

As a tax credit, McCain should be able to state that 95% of all Americans will not only have lower taxes than they currently do under his plan, but 95% of Americans, especially lower class and middle class Americans will have lower taxes under a McCain administration than under an Obama administration. This should put to rest any doubts about whether McCain just favors the rich as Obama has, with the media’s assistance, portrayed him as thus far.

It will create American jobs.

It will help small businesses.

It will help stabilize American businesses.

It will act as a constant market stabilizing force by injecting a stimulus into the market. The difference is that unlike the bailout, this time each American can track their own part of it and act as a steward and direct beneficiary of the resources that we will devote to it.

It will increase the percentage of those with a share in the stock market from 41% of our workforce to 100%.

It is effectively a form of a tax credit.

It is a family friendly proposal that will help put children through college. A family having a child today will with this proposal, be able to save $36,000 by the time the child turns 18, plus investment returns and dividends, than they otherwise would be able to. This is a huge point.

It enables people to identify and support worthy local businesses and start-ups within their communities that could thrive if given the capital.

It is in the vein of what McCain is already thinking of, if we can believe what his close friend and ally Senator Graham stated earlier this week to the effect that McCain was considering policy proposals that would cut taxes on investments.

“I think it goes along the lines of now’s the time to lower tax rates for investors, capital gains tax, dividend tax rates, to make sure that we can get the economy jump-started,” Graham said on CBS'”Face the Nation.””It will be a very comprehensive approach to jump-start the economy by allowing capital to be formed easier in America by lowering taxes.”

If he just comes out and says tax cuts, lower dividend rates, etc., already 59% of the electorate could not care less because they have no investments, and the other 41% are divided as to whether this is the best approach, and its too over their heads anyways to be a game changer. It is far far from a game changer.

GAME CHANGER #2: McCain needs to lay it on the line and challenge Obama to do the same. All this back and forth about who owns the mantle of change and who would be a new politician has thus far been a lot of talk. How about if McCain ups and says, “I promise, within 4 years to balance the budget and start paying down the national debt. Should I fail to achieve this objective, I will not run for a second term. That’s how serious I am, how committed I am, how strongly I believe in my plans and concrete proposals to bring real change to Washington and achieve bipartisan support. Now, Senator Obama, will you or will you not make this same pledge to the American people?”

And you know what Obama will do? He will, as he has down in each debate, not answer the question. Obama will not risk his second term. He will not say no, but the dodge will be transparent. If Obama does say no, then McCain has established a standard of leadership the country can expect and still looks more Presidential for having been the one to establish the standard. And, he can attack Obama’s trillion dollars of new spending and promise to lower taxes as incongruous with such a promise.

GAME CHANGER #3: Tie Obama into ACORN and connect the dots. It should not be a long drawn out thing, and Obama is sure to have some cheap deflection and would act offended and accuse McCain of lowball politics. But lay it out there, and create a web site to the effect of Obamaspast.com or something easy to remember like that where the case can be voluminously and clearly laid out. Mention the web site several times.

GAME CHANGER #4: Change debate tactics. Let’s have a few less long stories and a few more statistics. When Obama says 95% of Americans will get a tax cut, and he says it 10 times, we need to counter that dang it. When Obama claims McCain’s health care will reduce the number of insured by taxing employers, McCain needs to clarify why Obama is either misrepresenting or missing a key part of the picture. Even his supporters don’t get it and think his health care is hard to sell people on. McCain should come armed with 5-10 good stats he can use on health care, taxes, etc.

GAME CHANGER #5: McCain needs to crystallize the sale on judgment and experience in foreign policy leading to peace, security, and stability. There are a lot of voters one step short on the primrose path of feeling safer with McCain than Obama. We’ve got a lot invested in this message, but it is NOT yet crystallized in voters minds.

What have we learned from the Iraq war and the mistakes of the Bush administration? (Might even be a Schieffer question). That bad judgment, an unwillingness to admit when one is wrong, and foreign policy inexperience gets us into military conflicts and keeps us there. Like Bush, Obama has bad judgment, like Bush Obama is unwilling to admit when he is wrong, like Bush Obama has no foreign policy experience whatsoever, like Bush Obama reflects such a poor understanding of international affairs that it is unlikely he could improve America’s standing in the world.

Come out and say, “The junior Senator from Illinois has continued to talk about Bush-McCain foreign policy, but last time I checked, I am not George Bush’s Vice President, AND I AM NOT GEORGE BUSH. I have not agreed with the President and have been the most vocal critic within my party of his policies. I have far far better judgment than George Bush has, and I promise to lead our country towards peace and security. While Bush represented the pendulum swinging away from sound foreign policy, Obama’s inexperience would cause the pendulum to swing just as far off the mark in another direction. We need more than just a reactionary to Bush’s failed policies. We need a leader who has the wisdom, experience, and proven judgment to get it right.”