Country First

In case you haven't yet heard, apparently everything we thought we knew about elections has gone out the window.

My initial reaction: Can a candidate actually do this? This campaign has been going on 2 years and he suspends it 6 weeks before the elections? Before a debate about 100 million are estimated to watch? How can this possibly work in McCain's favor?

My more sober, depressing reaction: This is kind of brilliant, and I totally understand why McCain did it.

Here's my interpretation, which may or may not be completely off base:

The Palin pick succeeded in stealing Obama's momentum and getting him off message for about three weeks; however, that period is clearly over, and McCain and co. probably realize that they pushed it too far (the media's revolt during Palin's world leader speed-dating at the UN seems like it was the tipping point). Meanwhile, Obama has convinced the electorate (by about a 15 point margin) that he is more trustworthy on economic issues. McCain's biggest attempt to undermine that (the ads re: Obama connections Freddie Mac) backfired massively when the media published Rick Davis' (much more significant) ties w/ the firm, which McCain can't possibly discuss w/o losing credibility.

So, much like w/ the VP pick, McCain's campaign sat down and decided that if they continued on the current trajectory, they would almost certainly lose. McCain is likely to get hammered in the debate Friday, both by Obama and the moderator. By suspending the campaign, they get McCain out of the debate until he is more prepared and the emotion over the economic crisis has died down, and they potentially can gain back the moral high ground by making Obama's campaigning and ad spending (which McCain can't possibly compete w/) seem inappropriate.

Obama's no doubt bewildered about how to proceed, though he's already issued one great line, essentially telling McCain, "We both have planes. We can get between Mississippi and DC pretty easily."

If I was Axelrod/Plouffe, I'd have Obama say this too:

"Lincoln ran two campaigns during the Civil War and never needed to take a time out."

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