posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 04:52 AM
1. Reintroduce himself
Even though a mocking McCain campaign ad describes him as "the biggest celebrity in the world," Obama said in the USA TODAY interview he needs "to
tell my story once again."
At this convention, there's been less emphasis on the father from Africa and childhood in Indonesia — and more on what ties him to the struggles of
average middle-class Americans: his single mother, grandparents from Kansas and his efforts to work his way through college.
Obama's getting-to-know-me offensive is partly a defense.
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Don Fowler said that in key states such as South Carolina, where he lives, McCain's efforts to portray
Obama as an empty celebrity have had an effect.
"Anybody who knows him knows it's not true," Fowler said, "but that impression has been planted and it's going to take a real hard pushback to
In interviews at the convention here, politicians representing battleground states all said they hope Obama will spend more time on their turf. Obama
better pack his bags for the duration, said George McGovern, the party's 1972 presidential nominee.
"He's just got to work day and night from now until Election Day, take advantage of his youth and health," he said.
2. Get foreign policy chops
Obama spent a week in July traveling to Afghanistan, Iraq and Europe, where he was received warmly by world leaders.
It was an attempt to shore up the weakest link in his résumé, though Obama insists he doesn't feel uncertain about his ability to handle the
foreign policy requirements of the presidency.
"Look at the judgments I've made and the judgments John McCain has made," Obama said last week.
On the Iraq war, which McCain supported and Obama said he would have voted against had he been in the Senate at the time, "he was wrong and I was
right," Obama said.
His running-mate choice of Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a veteran on global disputes, has earned him praise —
including from some undecided voters.
"It certainly complements the ticket," said Joe Klinger of Springfield, Ill.
McCain and his supporters are citing Biden's selection as an admission Obama needs help on one of the key tasks of a president.
On Wednesday, McCain unveiled an ad saying Obama is "dangerously unprepared to be president."
3. Run against McBush
Obama and his allies are doing their best to tie McCain to President Bush, emphasizing that the Arizonan voted with Bush 95% of the time in 2007,
according to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly.
What's not stressed by the Obama team is that McCain's score for last year was unusually high: He backed Bush 89% of the time in 2006 and 77% of the
time in 2005.
Obama frequently highlights that McCain has been one of the staunchest supporters of Bush's recent Iraq policy, without noting that McCain criticized
the early conduct of the war.
Another key talking point: McCain's change of heart on Bush's tax cuts.
McCain opposed them when they were passed in 2001 and 2003, but now says it would be a mistake to roll them back because it would amount to a tax hike
for some Americans. Obama argues that the Bush tax cuts benefit the affluent at the expense of the middle class.
Last week in Virginia, Obama borrowed a line from President Reagan to attack what he calls "McCain-Bush" economics.
"Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?" Obama asked a Lynchburg crowd that roared back an emphatic, "No-o-o!"
The Obama campaign began airing a new ad Monday that shows McCain and Bush embracing and says McCain's economic plans would amount to "four more
years of the same old tune."
Democrats say it's vital for Obama to link McCain with Bush.
"He's up against a candidate who has got a very appealing personal history," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., citing McCain's service as a Navy
fighter pilot and five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
"The challenge will be to focus on the issues … and what an Obama administration will bring to average American families."
4. Learn to bowl
Obama's attempts to be a regular Joe by taking up this pastime bombed in Pennsylvania — both on the bowling lanes, where he threw gutter balls, and
in the primary, which he lost to Clinton.
In the fall, Obama needs to connect with the working-class voters who flocked to Clinton. Many voters "haven't been convinced he relates to people
like them," said Martin Dunleavy, a Democratic National Committee member from Connecticut, co-founder of a group called Ethnic Democrats.
"They're skittish about his experience," Dunleavy said, adding "the angst, quite honestly, some of it's about race, and we shouldn't lose sight
Obama's emphasis on his middle-class background will help, he said, but not as much as his choice of a running mate born in Scranton, Pa., where
Clinton won more than 70% of the vote in Pennsylvania's primary.
"Biden is the classic, middle-class Irish success story," he said.
Obama, who has hit lunch-bucket themes before blue-collar crowds during the past week, plans a bus trip with Biden through western Pennsylvania, Ohio
and Michigan, beginning Friday after the convention ends.
"This election will be decided on the fundamentals, not how many houses somebody has or who's elitist," said Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, referring to
Obama's mockery of McCain's multiple residences and McCain's suggestions that Obama is out of touch.
That list, he said, includes the economy, health care, jobs, education and getting out of Iraq.
5. Court the women
The latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows Obama doing better among women voters than McCain, 48%-42%.
However, he "has some missionary work to do" to mobilize Clinton activists, said Ruth Harkin, the Iowa senator's wife and a strong Clinton
supporter during the primaries.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman T. J. Rooney, a self-described "dyed-in-the-wool Clinton supporter" now backing Obama, said a message that
focuses on McCain's opposition to abortion rights will help win independent female voters in suburban Philadelphia counties that often decide
elections in his state.
Rooney recommends that Obama "talk to women about the Supreme Court," because recent rulings on the increasingly conservative court shaped by Bush
have limited abortion rights.
Anne Gannon, tax collector of Palm Beach County, Fla., who came to the convention floor sporting a "Clinton Delegate and Obama Supporter" button,
said she's angry that Democratic Party officials "failed to speak out about sexist comments" made by some television and radio commentators against
Even so, Gannon believes Obama can win the support of older women — and her state — if he and Clinton can convey the message that "her vision of
America is his vision of America."
6. Keep 'em fired up
Obama strategists are counting on a record turnout of black voters and voters under 30 to tip several key states — especially some in the South that
haven't backed a Democratic presidential candidate in years.
Obama has 16 offices in North Carolina, where 300,000 new voters have been registered since the beginning of the year, said state Rep. Dan Blue.
In Georgia, the campaign has 27 field offices, including one in Forsyth County, where 90% of the voters are Republican, said state Sen. Horacena Tate.