There’s obviously not much good news for the presidential campaign of Arizona Senator John McCain. The odds are that he’s cooked, especially with the imminent entry of Fred Thompson, who has helped starve the McCain campaign of needed funds.
But as grim as things are at the moment, there’s at least one corollary benefit, however ephemeral it might be: McCain’s expectations are at a rock bottom low.
Any talk of pulling out of the race is completely premature, especially with such a wide open situation still at hand — and especially with other rookie presidential candidates in the race such as Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. There is danger ahead.
The odds are that one or perhaps even two of these three putative front-runners will somehow falter in the GOP primary end game crucible — either to a gaffe, a meltdown under the media klieg lights, a revelation or two of some sort, or some major, bizarre error that points a one-time top tier candidate towards the exits.
McCain cannot count on this happening, but it’s possible.
But even then, with an opening, he’d have to take advantage of it.
Courtesy of the Brody File, here’s an article from the Associated Press in 1979:
“Ronald Reagan, regarded as a leading candidate for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, is trailing other GOP candidates in financial contributions this year, according to federal reports. The Federal Election Commission said Wednesday that Reagan’s campaign committee has reported $1.4 million in contributions so far this year. That compares with these other GOP presidential contenders and the funds they have reported raising: Rep. Philip M. Crane of Illinois, $2.5 million. Former Texas Gov. John Connally, $2.2 million. Former CIA Director George Bush, $1.5 million.. And although Reagan wasn’t the leading fund-raiser, he was the biggest spender, using nearly $1.3 million of the $1.4 million he raised.”
And here’s a Washington Post story from June, 1980, after Reagan made a comeback and secured the nomination:
“It is true that Reagan entered the campaign with enormous assets. But Reagan had to overcome doubts about his age and ability, an ill-advised Iowa strategy, a major staff shake-up in the middle of the campaign and serious money problems.”
Clearly, McCain is no Reagan because of his problems with the GOP base, and the dynamics of 2008 are different than 1980, but it is instructive to look back at the press coverage.
McCain, a boxing fan, isn’t just taking big head shots yet surviving by bobbing and weaving on the ropes — he’s on the mat. But, as always, something completely unpredictable will occur in the months ahead. Perhaps it will be on the Democratic side, but we’ll see.