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McCain Ups the Ante

From a hot-off-the-presses interview between McCain and the Columbus Dispatch:

Q: Does that mean it’s the same as putting politics ahead of country?

A: It means … I said, I will repeat my statement again, that he would rather lose a war than lose a campaign. Because anyone who fails to acknowledge that the surge has worked, who has consistently opposed it, consistently never sat down and had a briefing with General Petraeus, our commander there, would rather lose a war than a political campaign.

This is not wholly different from what McCain told voters in New Hampshire, or told Katie Couric. But after taking some heat for his remarks, McCain is not backing down. In fact, he has broadened his criticsm: now anybody who fails to acknowledge the success of the surge — and probably anyone who opposed it in the first place — is apparently branded as something just short of a traitor.

The McCain campaign has taken a couple of cheap shots at the Obama campaign while he has been in Europe and the Middle East. This is one of them, and the other was McCain’s new commercial directly blaming Obama for high gas prices. This is smart politics I suppose, considering that Obama’s staff isn’t in a good position to respond. But McCain clearly thinks this phrasing is a winner for him, and if the Obama people don’t get on the case pronto, they may find themselves going down John Kerry’s well-worn path.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.

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