We promised we'd talk about the big speeches — here goes! Last night gave us our first real taste of the general election campaign, and nothing stood out more to me more than the juxtaposition of John McCain's and Barack Obama's speeches and supporters.
Obama's speech had rock-star qualities. Speaking in a packed arena to loud cheers, his powerful words and oration gave viewers present and at home goose bumps. About an hour before, McCain gave his prebuttal to what sounded like a group of about 12 supporters, and his delivery seemed unfinished for prime-time.
The contextual contrast gave McCain a serious handicap. This was the historic night Obama had been waiting for — his ascension as the Democratic nominee, the first black candidate from a major party. His supporters were ecstatic, after a long and hard fought battle with Hillary Clinton.
In this context, McCain's decision to preempt Obama, in a format that's not his strong suit, seems like a strategic blunder. But, his style might not necessarily be a lasting burden. So see why,
Voters may have a distaste for Barack's celebrity-like campaigning, instead preferring McCain's candid speeches and open Q&A sessions with the press. Enough Americans may like McCain's policies as well as his accessible, low-production events.
Either way McCain's camp should find a way to relay his message in the bright lights of a general election campaign. Obama's speech was electrified, while McCain's fell flat. In addition, Barack's battle with Hillary has allowed him to amass the money, exposure, and staff of a national campaign. Did last night send a warning signal to Republicans?