On the Road Again
McCain is following a similar strategy on Iraq, which Barack hasn't visited since 2006 - taking a perceived weakness and trying to turn it to Barack's disadvantage. On Monday, he used Iraq to emphasize his argument that Barack is inexperienced and naive as he offered to accompany the democrat on a field trip into the war zone.
This is a very strong tactic. Despite his early opposition to the war, before he held a position that was relevant to war policy, Barack has shown no leadership on ending the war since arriving in the senate. When people start to look closely at what McCain is saying, there's something for everyone to get mad at Barack about - why hasn't he taken any political risk to oppose the war since coming to Washington, why hasn't he kept himself informed with a return visit to the region, who is he to put down the effort when he hasn't made his own effort to keep up to speed on progress? What if things are going well and he doesn't even know it?
"Look at what happened in the last two years since Senator Obama visited and declared the war lost," Senator McCain has told the Associated Press. "He really has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq and he has wanted to surrender for a long time."
"If there was any other issue before the American people, and you hadn't had anything to do with it in a couple of years, I think the American people would judge that very harshly."
Age is always portrayed as a problem for McCain in this race, but it too can easily be turned around. Barack's youth should be more of an issue than McCain's senior status, and McCain is working to move the conversation to where he wants it:
Senator McCain has said Senator Obama has not been to Iraq in more than two years, since before the so-called troops surge announced by President George W. Bush at the start of 2007.
He has said the country has been transformed since then and Senator Obama cannot have a credible policy on Iraq unless he returns there to see the improvements in security.
A supporter of Senator McCain floated the idea of a joint visit over the weekend. On cue, Senator McCain said he was supportive of the idea.
"I would also seize that opportunity to educate Senator Obama along the way," he said.