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John McCain's Latin excursion works out just fine, thank you very much

July 3, 2008 |  4:25 pm

As John McCain prepared for his jaunt to Colombia and Mexico, The Times' Mark Barabak was among many writing stories wondering about the trip's political efficacy. As Barabak so nicely put it: "For starters, and most obviously, there are no electoral votes to be had in Latin America or Canada, another country McCain recently visited."

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain makes a statement earlier this week upon arriving in Colombia. In the background is Colombian President Alvaro Uribe On ABCnews.com., Rick Klein was more pointed. Noting that McCain picked the Colombia stop to spotlight his commitment to fight the flow of drugs into the U.S., Klein wrote: “Maybe this is huge with conservative voters and I’m missing something, but I had Nancy Reagan flashbacks. With the economy teetering, $80 SUV fill-ups, and two real wars, this is what McCain has chosen to spotlight in a foreign trip, four months before Election Day? Just judging from the polls -- shouldn’t he be a little more concerned with the price of gas than the price of cocaine?"

Nor were journalists the only ones asking such questions (the Swamp has a recap too). For some Republicans, the sojourn epitomized their concerns about muddled messages and ill-conceived scheduling by the McCain camp -- criticisms that helped spur a staff reshuffling.

And then one of life's truisms intervened: It's almost always better to be lucky than smart.

McCain was on-site when the Colombian government pulled off a daring, ripped-from-the-pages-of-a-Hollywood-screenplay rescue of hostages held by a rebel group. McCain, in fact, got treated as if he already were in the executive branch of the U.S. government, receiving a top-secret, pre-raid briefing.

There were lots of comments about the advantageous timing for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, but the best line we saw came from this post at ABCnews.com by Karen Travers and Gregory Wallace: "McCain spends 24 hours on Colombia soil, hostages are rescued. (It sounds almost like a Chuck Norris Interweb fact...)."

-- Don Frederick

Photo: EPA

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