From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
NORFOLK, Va. -- After a weekend full of rumored policy rollouts and strategy suggestions from prominent conservatives, McCain this morning gave nearly 20,000 Virginia voters a peek at what his campaign has planned for the next 22 days: a fight.
"We have 22 days to go," McCain said. "We're six points down. The national media has written us off. Sen. Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq, and concede defeat in Iraq... My friends, but you know what they forgot? They forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."
Although the substance of today's speech wasn't entirely new, McCain's new fighting spirit was evident in his big finish.
"Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight," McCain said. "Fight for a new direction for our country. Fight for what's right for America. Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, infighting and selfishness in Washington. Fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead... Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history."
The attacks today were far less pointed compared with recent speeches given by McCain and his running mate, but McCain's resurgent message was clear. Rather than bring up Obama's personal associations, his refusal to answer questions, or the mystery surrounding his rapid political rise, McCain today stuck to policy distinctions. He hit Obama on health care, government spending, taxes and the differences in their energy policies.
"The last president to raise taxes and restrict trade in a bad economy, as Sen. Obama proposes, was Herbert Hoover," McCain said. "That didn't turn out too well. They say those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Well, my friends, I know my history lessons, and I sure won't make the mistakes that Sen. Obama will."
*** UPDATE *** By our count, McCain uttered the word 'fight' -- or some variation of it -- nineteen times during his remarks.