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The significance of John McCain’s tough week
Was it a speedbump, or a sign he's losing the image war?
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hat happened
A Gallup poll suggested that Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama got a bounce from his trip to Europe and the Middle East. His lead over Republican rival John McCain increased: 49 percent to McCain's 40 percent. (MarketWatch's Election Blog) But another Gallup poll showed Obama ahead by merely three percentage points, with McCain slightly up among likely voters. (Los Angeles Times' Top of the Ticket blog)

What the commentators said
Poor John McCain, said Clive Crook in TheAtlantic.com. He has just had the worst week of his presidential campaign. Instead of lying low while Obama had his “European moment,” McCain drew attention to himself in a series of “dreary and sparsely attended small-town" events. “In this election, the image war is turning into a rout.”

McCain is “running a flawed campaign in a big Democratic year,” said Robert Novak in the Chicago Sun-Times, but that doesn’t mean the White House is out of reach. If Obama can’t get his poll numbers above 50 percent after his “massively publicized” foreign trip, it's clear that voters are still reluctant “to accept a young, inexperienced African American as their president.”

But even that advantage is no sure thing for McCain, said Irwin M. Stelzer in The Daily Standard. He had ridiculed Obama’s demand for a timetable for leaving Iraq, and for direct talks with Iran—and while Obama was abroad President Bush warmed to both ideas. That "pulled the rug out from under McCain's most important edge"—the belief that he would make a fine commander-in-chief.

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