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John McCain, in his own way, hitched a ride with Barack Obama

July 26, 2008 |  2:21 pm

As Barack Obama prepared to embark on his now-completed trek to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Jordan and three European locales, word from the John McCain camp was that he would use his time alone on the home front to spotlight the issue polls show Americans care most about, by far: the dicey economy.Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain presses the flesh during a recent campaign stop in Pennsylvania

Once Obama's journey was underway, however, McCain and his aides quickly began a running -- and aggressively negative  -- critique of it, as well as what they asserted was rose-colored coverage by the media corps that was along for the ride.

McCain, early in the week, was particularly eager to draw Obama into a debate over the U.S. troop surge in Iraq -- scoffing that his rival was politically craven for refusing to acknowledge the strategy's success.

And by the end of the week, it was clear that rather than try to change the subject to the economy, McCain and his aides had decided their best campaign counter-punching tactic was to treat his rival's trip as a foil.

Our friend Jim Tankersley reflects on this at The Swamp in an item that, in its headline, poses the question: "Obama attention good for McCain."

Jim notes that McCain today, in his new weekly radio speeches, abandoned any pretense of pretending that Obama's travels and his tete-a-tetes with various heads of state had not dominated the news. The Arizona Republican cut to the chase without delay:

Good morning. I'm John McCain, and this week the presidential contest was a long-distance affair, with my opponent touring various continents and arriving yesterday in Paris.

With all the breathless coverage from abroad, and with Sen. Obama now addressing his speeches to 'the people of the world,' I'm starting to feel a little left out. Maybe you are too.

The thinly veiled sarcasm, of course, was intentional. But what about the specific reference to Paris? Perhaps McCain believes that Francophobia remains alive and well in this country, despite the demise of "freedom fries" on Capitol Hill.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Bloomberg News

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