Kent Bush: McCain failing to seize opportunity

Kent Bush

It doesn't happen often, but I have changed my mind.

It takes quite a bit of time and information for me to draw a conclusion. It takes a lot of information for me decide I was wrong.

But I was wrong about the protracted primary hurting the Democrats' chances of regaining the White House this year.

I still think the basic premise is correct. Running a long, embattled race while your opponent suns himself on a rock seems to indicate that when he rejoins the fray, your opponent would have an advantage.

But I misunderstood two key issues.

First, I underestimated how much baggage each of the Democratic candidates checked onto the campaign plane. And secondly, I overestimated the effect that baggage would have on voters.

If Hillary Clinton had dropped out when people initially began to cry for her to step aside, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scandal would have involved the Democratic candidate, not just a contestant. It would have been the Republicans attacking on this issue and not members of the same party.

It turns out, surprisingly, that the scandal had little impact on voters as Barack Obama has extended his national lead over Clinton to 51 percent to 43 percent, according to the most recent Gallup polls.

If Clinton had won the nomination early, she would have faced the Bosnia sniper fiasco as a candidate. As it is, Democratic voters get to contemplate both of these issues and still have time to choose which one wins the top spot on the November ticket.

John McCain's advantage has been negligible.

He began a "biographical" tour Monday to show voters the real McCain. He will visit locations that have been important to his family and service of the country.

Only time will tell if this "life-story" campaign will help get his campaign going.

Gallup shows him leading each Obama and Clinton by statistically insignificant numbers. That is important because he has not faced a negative word in almost a month. Both of his would-be opponents have endured major scandals, and he hasn't gained an inch.

Instead of a bloody battle, the hard-fought Democratic primary has turned into a very effective job interview for the party.

By the time the race is won, most major issues will have been addressed and laid to rest. McCain's failure to seize an opportunity handed to him may cost him dearly in November.

Augusta Gazette