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McCain: Playing the patriotism card

At last night's rally in Wisconsin, McCain said this: "And that's how we see this election, country first or Obama first and I have a feeling [chant of "Country First, Country First"]… So when it comes to cutting taxes for seniors, for working families, for small businesses my opponent didn't put the hardworking people of this country first. When it came time to support our troops fighting to protect our freedoms and way of life my opponent said he'd never deprive them of the funds they needed to fight and then did just that."

He later added, "A vote for me will guarantee that the forces that have brought down our economy will be out of business. I will end the corrupt practices on Wall Street and backroom deals in Washington DC. I will hold accountable those responsible for the oversight and protection of consumers, taxpayers and homeowners. A vote for Sen. Obama will leave this country at risk during one of the most severe challenges to America's economy since the Great Depression, and that's straight talk, my friends."

The New York Times' Nagourney spends some time on the trail with McCain and isn't impressed. "McCain's once easygoing if irreverent campaign presence — endearing to crowds, though often the kind of undisciplined excursions that landed him in the gaffe doghouse — has been put out to pasture. He takes far fewer chances, meaning there are fewer risqué jokes, zingers at a familiar face in the crowd, provocative observations on policy or politics, or exercises in self-derogatory humor. By every appearance, this Mr. McCain is, or at least is struggling to be, disciplined and on message in a way befitting of American politics today, if not quite befitting of the McCain of yesterday."

Here's the roughest part of the analysis: "For years, Mr. McCain has struck a different kind of cloth as a presidential candidate: as a politician capable of defying his party or embracing it; holding a world view that defied any easy ideological setting; having an ironic detachment as he observed himself on the campaign trail, combined with a sly sense of humor that leavened his occasional bursts of temper."

"These days, Mr. McCain sounds less like his old self than Bob Dole, another Republican senator who ran for president in 1996, sounded in the closing days of his campaign — speaking louder or repeating statements that he thinks might be overlooked. 'The American economy is in a crisis!' Mr. McCain said. 'It's in a crisis!'"

The Spanish Inquisition… "Did John McCain, who prides himself on his foreign policy chops, not know who the Spanish leader is? Or, was he taking a hard line against Spain's socialist government?" the Boston Globe asks. "The Spanish media, in particular, is trying to solve that riddle after the Republican presidential candidate's interview this week with a Spanish-language radio station in Miami." McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann said McCain knew exactly who the interviewer was talking about.
 
The Spanish embassy in Washington had this response, part: "The only plausible explanation for McCain not wanting to meet with Zapatero, is that, like Bush, he is still angry about Spain pulling its troops out of Iraq in 2004. If McCain carries that much of a grudge then how in the world will he rebuild our relationship with Europe, as he has said he would do." 
 
"Where is Spain, John McCain?" the New York Daily News writes. "Republican Presidential John McCain showed some confusion Wednesday night about the identity of the Prime Minister of Spain and exactly where that country of 40 million people is located." Scheunemann: "Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview."