From NBC's Kelly O'Donnell
Reporting on the road with the McCain campaign...
The "Biden" ad: Advisors say that spot has been ready for "a couple days." The McCain team says they assessed that Kaine "utterly disqualified himself" on the basis of the experience question and asserted that Obama does not particularly like Evan Bayh. "Who did that leave?" So they had the Biden spot ready to go.
"Passed Over" ad: McCain advisors say they assesd the 3 a.m. Obama text as an "avoidable" slight to Sen. Clinton and a belated elbow for the primary season 3 a.m. call spot. As First Read mentioned in First Thoughts, the campaign featured Hillary Clinton's words as an attack on Obama in the latest "Passed Over" ad.
Reaction to Biden selection: McCain advisors say Biden's career has not been covered in the Pennsylvania media market. They acknowledge his Scranton, blue-collar roots, but suggest Delaware, with a very small media market, does not have the kind of bleed over seen in New Jersey where NY politicians/issues are saturated. Biden "will fire up conservatives," they claim, because of his positions and conduct on the Judiciary Committee. "That gives us license there," advisors say. Think Roberts, Alito and Clarence Thomas.
The JUDGMENT question: McCain advisors say Obama has waged his candidacy on his "superior judgment" and they point out that Biden supported the Iraq war vote, then advocated partitioning of Iraq which McCain folks call "a terrible idea." Obviously, they will press on the readiness factor, saying Biden has "strongly and consistently" criticized Obama's readiness to be president while Biden "spoke glowingly about McCain on a number of issues."
McCain folks will, of course, repeatedly hammer at the notion the Biden pick "undermines the change message." Biden and Obama also differed on some foreign policy issues and advisors point to Biden's criticism of Obama on the issue of sitting down with rogue leaders in the first year of a term in office.
The ABORTION issue: Advisors ask, "What happens to pro-choice Catholics in politics?" They face criticism from Church officials and related groups, they said.
ATTACK DOG ROLE: McCain advisors' assessment is that Biden "doesn't wear well" in attack mode, adding ,"There is no way he's not gonna make mistakes of a big nature."
THE HOW MANY HOUSES? ISSUE: Advisors have gone silent on Romney and other short listers. On the wealth factor... McCain advisors say the senator's response in the Politico interview was "in artful." They knock its potency by saying that voters "hate class warfare" and that "McCain doesn't come across as an elitist."
Advisors say if Obama gets "nastier" on that issue that opens the door for them. Advisors say the "Rezko deal stinks to the high heavens." They will be prepared to show McCain's "home" in Hanoi by using images of his cell. They claim they have not overused the POW element and insist they have "underused it." They say Americans think most people in presidential politics are wealthy and will point out that Obama "made himself a multi-millionaire after he entered public life."
They suggest McCain should have responded, as he has before, that he is proud of Cindy's family and grateful for their success and blessings. That they have four homes, including his work week residence in the DC area, they claim. The others, advisors say, should be described as Cindy providing for other family members -- an elderly aunt, a daughter, etc., live in property she owns.
STATE OF THE RACE: Advisors say, "I'll take it." when describing the tightening of poll numbers. They call the ABC poll with them down six an outlier -- though most polls showed about that margin a month ago. They are most pleased on their move on economic issues and suggest Obama won't be able to catch McCain on the national security polling. They assert Obama's unfavorables have risen while "ours have not" -- though that assemssment does not hold up in the most recent NBC/WSJ poll.