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McCain’s housing problem
Can Obama use his rival’s many homes to make the elitist label stick?
 

What happened
John McCain said in an interview Wednesday that he couldn’t remember how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own. “I’ll have my staff get to you,” he told Politico reporters. (Politico) Barack Obama’s campaign promptly aired a TV ad (video of ad via YouTube) capitalizing on the comment to paint McCain as a millionaire who is out of touch with ordinary Americans. (The Wall Street Journal via Google News) McCain’s campaign shot back that Obama lives in a “frickin’ mansion.” (The Washington Post's The Trail blog)

What the commentators said

This gaffe was quite a gift for Obama, said David Yepsen in the Des Moines Register. In an instant, McCain lost any chance to use a “man-of-the-people schtick” for the rest of the campaign. “Just as George H.W. Bush looked out of touch when he didn’t seem to know what a grocery store scanner was, now McCain looks way out of touch to Americans struggling to pay their bills and their mortgages.”

This should certainly help Obama get rid of the elitist label and stamp it on McCain, said Jennifer Skalka in National Journal’s The Hotline On Call blog. It will be tough for Republicans to argue that “Obama’s affection for arugula” sets him apart from regular guys more than McCain’s real-estate portfolio does.

This is not the winner Obama thinks it is, said Mark Hemingway in National Review Online’s The Corner blog. At least the McCains paid for their houses, or at least Cindy the beer heiress did. Obama bought his with the help of Tony Rezko, who was just found guilty of wire fraud, mail fraud, corrupt solicitation, and money laundering.

Obama will regret playing this card, said Hugh Hewitt in his Townhall blog. “Class rhetoric rarely works,” and it seems especially unwise “when you have John Kerry as your nominee emeritus.”

McCain would not have "responded so violently" if he didn't know that this "attack is potentially devastating in an election that is likely to be all about economic issues,” said John Dickerson in Slate. But Obama could be the bigger loser because stooping to such a personal attack could “damage his brand.” He certainly can’t claim he is “lifting our politics out of the gutter” now.

 

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