October 15th, 2008
09:38 PM ET
14 years ago

Sanchez: Campaign like a long season of American Idol

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/15/art.walkout.jpg]
The presidential contest has degenerated into an overlong season of American Idol. Obama is the finalist with the charm and charisma - the fan favorite. McCain can still win but, unlike Obama whom the media has put on the fast track to victory, his pathway forward is indeed a tough row to hoe. He has to overcome voter fatigue, anxiety about the economy and America's habit of tossing a party out of power after eight years.

Despite the gloomy outlook, McCain has been in tough spots before; and we know how that turned out. It's a wise political observer who never bets against him. The race, according to at least a few polls, is closing - not by much - and it will continue to tighten.

For McCain, tonight's debate will not be won by defining complex policy issues or a new grand idea. It doesn't work. His focus must be on the two C's: character and crises.

Character matters to McCain as an election issue and a defining issue of his life. He's yet to make the strong character argument, which outlines how he put his country first and Obama took a pass.

Secondly, he must convince undecided voters why he's best prepared to navigate this country through a crisis-filled environment, now and in the future.

soundoff (466 Responses)
  1. Ken in NC

    If character matters in the office of President it is my perception that Senator Obama displayed much more character tonight than Senator McCain. Rather than spending his time making a pitch for himself, McCain spent time being negative towards Senator Obama.

    I felt tonight was the time for each of them to make their pitch to us, Americans, and Senator McCain wasted it by attacking Senator Obama.

    October 15, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  2. dj

    Barack Obama won this debate.. And, then last two debates.. McCain needs to go home and rest. and, please take his wife with him. And, as for Palen. Your looks aren't going to get you NO WHERE this time.. Go home and take care of your baby.. And, stop putting him on your other children.. Palen is no one to look up to. Wrong Women.. Should have picked HILLARY for that..
    McCain. go home and rest.. You need it..

    October 15, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  3. Mother

    McCain and Palin are like the "bullies" at school. They keep picking fights but end up with egg on their face – and a bad rap sheet! But hey, character attacks are all they have left, since they come up REAL SHORT on the things that truly matter to us true U.S. patriots!

    October 15, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  4. Simmy

    Three striikes...........! OB/08!

    October 15, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  5. Jocely

    I have been ask that questions for months who is John McCain?

    We Got the fact McCain never identify himself as republican

    We got the fact his not Bush John simply support all George Bush failed policy if you watch McCain tonight all he is try to do is to appeal to the republican base all George Bush try to do for the past 8 years is to appeal and promote the republican philosophy and frankly if you listen to McCain tonight it’s a repetition or a continuation of Bush policy

    Tonight once again John McCain failed to lay out his plan to move this country out of this crisis.


    New York

    October 15, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  6. Kellie

    America has finally seen the true McSane. Guess what people, we will always pay taxes read my lips"WE WILL ALWAYS PAY TAXES" who do you think will have to pay $850 billion? any program that will help revitalize America, I am for it.

    October 15, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  7. Anna

    OMG Obama got lot of patience, mccain was attacking him all the time and interrupting and annoying, if i were in the Obama's place i would have slapped mccain and left the debate in middle. thats why we need Obama THE PRESIDENT.

    October 15, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  8. ohio

    lets do this Obama its over!!!!!!!!

    October 15, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  9. Deborah Treadway

    I am 46, and have always been a Republican, largely in part because of a difference in core issues, BUT I really do not like John McCain, and I do not trust him. Do we really want an angry, negative president in the White House who levels character attacks at everyone around him? Or do we want someone who is willing to listen, and then try to find common ground? I will pray for Barack Obama, that God gives him wisdom and grace for the long haul ahead; we will ALL need it.

    October 15, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  10. Jasmine

    With all of his expressed knowledge, and experience, I expected John McCain to win all 3 debates with very little effort. He did not meet my expectations. All I got was more attacks and very little substance.

    October 15, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  11. deb in az

    mccain is not george bush and obama needed someone to smack that smirk right off his face......he acts like an elitist....joe the plumber has worked his butt off for years and now obama wants to spread his wealth around.....wake up america........obama lied about ayres ........whats to say about someone whos friends just hate america.......barrach h obama is a fake and a fraud..

    October 15, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. renewedrnc

    Hey people Governor Palin's sister has a child with Autism. I will revisit the debate, I believe Senator McCain was speaking in general about parents with an Autistic child. He did mention Governor Palin knows about Autism ie her sisters.

    October 15, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  13. Karen - South Africa

    John McCain has been running in this presidential campaign for a while and the fact that this was the only time he made the statement, "I am not George Bush" makes it unbelievable. He has certainly voted with him enough.

    Good Luck America.
    Go VOTE. You have that democractic right and it is your responsiblity to Vote.
    If you don't vote – don't complain.

    I do wish all Americans the best for the future and hope that your country will be what it once was.
    What happens in America directly and indirectly affects my life.

    cnn – is there any particular reason that my comments don't get posted on this blog?

    October 15, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  14. Ben

    What is it with you people? Using socialism like a swear word.

    I repeat, 700 billion dollars is welfare for the irresponible rich. And you know who will pay for it? The average Joe the plumber.

    Not the traders and brokerages who created the fraudulent derivitives (sp?) in the first place.

    The only the mean spirited would deny funding for education, health care, social security. I guess it's fair to say the we've had eight years of mean spirit.

    Now is the time for change.

    October 16, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  15. gerri

    Good night and so long John.

    October 16, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  16. Ben

    This is the abolute truth.

    Bumper sticker in Dallas Texas

    Are you crazy!!

    October 16, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  17. mitch

    mccain is done and you are the worst contributor on cnn along with bennett.

    October 16, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  18. Snafu

    I have to ask, How did John McCain know what Joe the so called plumber say to Obama, if he was none other than a plant? And then they get Joe on the phone and he was asked if either campaign contacted him he said no of course but not one ounce of credibility. McCain, did nothing but hurl insults and Obama took the high road. McCain acted like a spoiledbrat.

    October 16, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  19. Sally

    Why the American Idol comparison? Yes, the campaign has been very, very long. But although it is hard to remember in the heat of the moment, I feel that this campaign has actually been more civil and more focused on issues than the last few presidential campaign seasons. (Low bar, I know, but I think both candidates deserve some credit on this front).

    As for the American public liking charisma, my observation would be that this is *always the case*. I just feel lucky that this time around we have a charismatic candidate who also happens to be highly intelligent, well – organized and have well thought out policy positions.

    October 16, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  20. renewedrnc

    To give Senator Obama some credit there are many small businesses that could benefit from this federal investment program. But will Senator Obama be giving with one hand and taking away with the other hand using his Tax Plan? Which brings up another point, Senator Obama is wrong about a small percentage of small businesses that will be impacted by his tax proposal. He is using the one man one vote method of collecting data. Small businesses may employ a dozen or more people. His/her business will be affected, unless they incorporate, which leads to another tax method. Under Senator Obama’s tax plan: If four small businesses have a total of 50 employees, his tax plan could help 50 one man businesses and cause 4 small businesses to default, which will affect 54 people. I am taking the liberty to include the business owner. Let’s take that another step and make it 49 small businesses employing 600. I rounded down for the sake of simplicity. Statics can prove anything, without truly lying. Just shading the truth a little or a lot.

    October 16, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  21. Coloradoan for change

    to "brainwashed"

    I'm so glad that you enlightened all of the Obama supporters. Good thing you are more informed and intelligent than we are!

    October 16, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  22. Retired Navy/Fmr Republican

    McCain is one angry man, during tonight's debate he looked very cynical. I will not vote Republican this time, McCain as president will be bad for the Nation and the Economy, if you thought we had it bad under Bush, just think what will happen if McCain wins, the Great Depression, another two ot three wars we will be in. McCain is full of Hate and Anger, time are changing. And a word of advice to active duty military folks, when you retireor are planning to get out of the military, McCain voted against in increasing the GI Bill, he voted for privatizing, outsourcing VA Healthcare, he sided with Bush on alot issues tha greatly diminishes our care we get at VA Hospitals. So think really hard is McCain for Veterans, I can definitely without a doubt say NO!!!

    October 16, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  23. Rj


    I just heard Sen. McCain openly admitted that Sen. Obama won the debate. Right after the debate Sen. McCain told Sen Obama "Good Job! Good Job! Good Job!

    Now what's the spin for?

    October 16, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  24. Deanna

    Obama , slick and snickering Senator Goverment.

    October 16, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  25. oscar

    how can mccain relate with international community with his anger? I think if any foreign leader insult him the way bush was insulted, he would immediately summon our troops for war. Enough of these Anger and Hate.

    October 16, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
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