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. Washington DC

    Stop crying McCain... stick to the issues.

    October 15, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  2. goldy

    McCain is really losing this debate. I can't believe he brought up Ayers. What is amazing is that nobody in the media has brought up The Palin's connection with the Alaska Independence Party. McCain is coming across in a very condescending way and seems angry.

    October 15, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  3. CindyN--PA

    Hey Joe the Plumber~ Are you going over to John's for dinner tonight after the debate?

    So now Joe the Plumber is supposed to represent the average American? Has anyone ever called a plumber and paid the bill a plumber charges? I'm supposed to feel sorry for Joe the Plumber because Joe doesnt want to pay his taxes?

    October 15, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  4. Tammy

    McCain is on fire tonight – he is nailing Obama! Open your eyes America!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  5. Defining moment

    Who in the world is Joe the plumber, Joe six pack etc... Talk to American people not all of us are named Joe something GEEZ!!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  6. Frances Vaughn

    It is obvious that McCain has memorized his script, He can only repeat everything that has been said during these debates...and repeated them often. He has not yet introduced anything new., or original.
    His tongue in cheek "compliments" directed at Sen. Obama are hollow and appear to be intended distractions.
    He is not the "man best prepared to be president." He's a BOOR!!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  7. RB - Texas

    Obama has never been south of the border????? What??????

    He wants to talk about free trade and immigration and wants Latinos to vote for him but he has never been to a Latin American Country???????

    Obsurd....
    I am astonished....

    Latinos Vote McCain

    October 15, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  8. Betty

    McCain is kicking Obama $@#, Obama is full of it and tonight is showing it

    October 15, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  9. candy cane

    Sarah Palin said Friday several of Barack Obama's comments about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been "reckless" and disqualify the Illinois senator for consideration as the next commander-in-chief.

    well what does she think about stupidity? comments like these show she oozes it!!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. Steph

    Joe Plumber is Joe six pack cousin!!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  11. Rory - NYC

    Enough with Joe the Plumber already!!

    October 15, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  12. Cynthia

    McCain is doing it, keep it up… I also think tonight starts the fall of the Obama fame…
    ----------------
    Totally agree with you. Obama is flip flopping before my eyes (Joe Plumber)!!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  13. amy

    Of this articles' "two C's", in my opinion, John McCain receives "F's". When given the global opportunity to display himself and his plans, his true character reveals itself to be defensive, irrational and irratic. He seems uncertain of the plans he is unveiling, and his negative attacks on Senator Obama seem childish and tactless. As the campaign rolls on and stock market crashes down, McCain seems to become increasingly unnerved and defensive. How can American afford to have such volatile leader admist the unstable world? I would fear for the direction of this country under the direction of such an angry and standoffish leader as John McCain.

    October 15, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  14. NB

    Joe the plumber your name was mentioned by 13 times by McCain.
    Still counting.

    October 15, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  15. Kevin, NYC

    This debate is a rerun of the first two. Nothing new just rehashing the same old crap. They both sound just like their campaign stump speaches. I haven't seen anything that will change my mind. At the best, this one is a draw and Obama is going to take this election in a landslide.

    October 15, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  16. Felix

    I have a leak under the kitchen sink. Where can I find Joe who works 24/7?

    October 15, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  17. Richie

    Does someone out there think McCain's health plan makes sense for anyone but the rich?

    October 15, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  18. Iowa Independent

    McCain looks like a crabby old man! He is so defensive it really does play well.

    October 15, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  19. X-democrat for McCain

    Obama has made his campain like a side freak show all year!! were all so sick of Obama we could Puke!!

    October 15, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  20. Joe Plumber

    Obama has shown tonight what we need in a president each and every day – patience, knowledge, common sense and concrete plans. This Joe is voting for Obama.

    October 15, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  21. Richie

    Tammy – What the heck did he say that you thought was good?

    October 15, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. Lu

    I was just wondering when you were going to talk, Leslie.
    Here you go again, you are trying to distract people from staring into the issues because you want this to be about personalities and emotions. If it was about issues, you know your master would lose.

    October 15, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  23. Felix

    Tammy, what ya smoking?

    October 15, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  24. Leslie Sanchez

    Who knew talk of "transplants" would become a normal part of the presidential debate vernacular

    October 15, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  25. Cynthia

    I cant believe people are looking for this Political Debate to ENTERTAIN THEM.. This is not a hollywood blockbuster film!! Its our future country leader(vote McCain)!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
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