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McCain: The new line of attack

The Washington Post's Shear notes, "McCain's allies have seized on a new and aggressive line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama, casting the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee as an opportunistic and self-obsessed politician who will do and say anything to get elected." Shear adds that "the abrupt shift in tone among his paid staff members, volunteer surrogates and other Republican staples of the cable news circuit is unmistakable, and it resembles the unified message the GOP used to paint the 2004 Democratic candidate, Sen. John F. Kerry, as a flip-flopper. It also reflects a growing belief among McCain's strategists that the campaign for the White House will be won or lost based on voters' view of  Obama's character."

VIDEO: The Nation's Chris Hayes discusses the McCain campaign's recent efforts to cast Barack Obama as a partisan even though he's worked on numerous projects with GOP legislators.

"Targeting a politician's character flaws is a time-tested strategy, but it is a complicated argument for McCain, who has also shifted his positions in the course of the campaign. This month, with gasoline prices soaring, the Republican reversed his position on offshore oil drilling." And: "Craig Shirley, a GOP consultant and biographer based in Virginia, said substantive issues are sometimes more powerful during a campaign than a focus on character. 'Bush tried the same thing in 1992 and Dole tried the same thing in 1996 -- trying to make the election a character issue -- both failing, of course,' Shirley said of George H.W. Bush and Robert J. Dole. 'If these things were simply about character, then the two war heroes the GOP nominated in 1992 and 1996 would have beaten the draft-dodging, pot-smoking womanizer.'"

"In the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk," Gen. Wes Clark (Ret.) said on CBS' Face the Nation. "It's a matter of gauging your opponents and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he has traveled all over the world, but he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded -- that wasn't a wartime squadron." He added, "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
The McCain campaign responded this way: "If Barack Obama's campaign wants to question John McCain's military service, that's their right. But let's please drop the pretense that Barack Obama stands for a new type of politics. The reality is he's proving to be a typical politician who is willing to say anything to get elected, including allowing his campaign surrogates to demean and attack John McCain's military service record."

McCain visited with Billy and Franklin Graham yesterday. He didn't walk away with their endorsement, but McCain did earn their praise.

"Earlier this month, Barack Obama … met with the younger Graham, who was among some 30 evangelicals Obama met with in Chicago."

Despite being considered a hawk, the Boston Globe writes that "in the plush office towers of some of America's leading defense companies, the recipients of billions of dollars of Pentagon contracts each year, the presumptive Republican nominee for president has another label: persona non grata. For even as McCain has railed against cuts in defense spending and sought to increase soldier benefits and operating funds, he has been equally dogged in his efforts to cancel some of the industry's most prized weapons contracts and micromanage others that he believes are wasteful and come at the expense of more pressing needs, according to a Globe review of his Senate record.
"The result: Despite McCain's national security credentials and staunch support for continuing the war in Iraq, he has only slightly exceeded presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama in campaign contributions from the defense industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."