"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."
This was the Obama campaign's response in an email:
"This story about John McCain losing track of how many houses he owns is a telling moment that helps to explain why he still thinks 'the fundamentals of our economy are strong' and why he offers just more of the same economic policies that we’ve gotten from President Bush for the last eight years."
Guys! Hire some screenwriters! The line is:
"At a time when many Americans are losing their only homes, John McCain can't remember how many homes he owns. We think that says it all."
If you can get the audience to draw their own conclusions, they will feel much more strongly about them than if you push your conclusions at them.
(NOTE: please use the comments to complain about other bad writing in the campaigns, not to talk politics itself, or to tell me to keep politics out of my blog. See the upper right hand corner.)
UPDATE: This attack ad is okay, but only okay:
I think it contains way too much information. Why keep slamming McCain for saying "the fundamentals of our economy are strong"? First of all, the statement is arguably true, depending on how you define fundamentals (American workers are skilled, our technology is superb etc.). Second, the statement is so dull it slips right out of the mind and you can't remember what the guy just said. (I'd have gone with the Philip Gramm "Americans are whiners" here.)
I would just pound away for 30 seconds on the unbelievable fact. I would have man-in-the-street interviews, with one ordinary person after another saying, incredulously, he doesn't know how many houses he has????. Over and over. Maybe have someone saying, "I just lost my house. I sure remember that!"
And I might wrap it up with the shot of the White House, "Do we really want to give John McCain another house?" Not "the American people can't afford," blah, blah, blah, which is portentous and meaningless. Just the basic logic, if he can't remember how many houses he's got, maybe we don't need him in the White House.
Keep it simple! Keep it catchy! Keep it down to earth!
I hate that we live in a society where sound bites rule, but since they do, they may as well be effective. And who better than a screenwriter to boil things down to sound bites? (I suppose a candidate who hired a screenwriter would get a lot of flak from the other side - "an expert in fantasy..." and all that.)
Perhaps the screenwriter they hired was Aaron Sorkin. I can easily see him writing the first, but not the second. I've been rewatching the first season of West Wing, and I believe he would give the line to Sam Seaborn.
Frankly, I like the first one because it isn't dumbed down. I do agree, and have said to others when helping them write or say something, that brevity rules when trying to get something across.
I think the campaign is reluctant to bring up McCain's losing track of his houses gratuitously. If Obama became petty about the matter, it would undermine the idea that he's running a new kind of campaign.
So the ad's legitimate message is: McCain's out of touch with the struggles of the electorate. That makes relevant: his forgetting his number of houses, his statements about the strength of the economy, and the record foreclosures occurring.
But don't take this comment to mean I don't think the Democrats should play mean. I do. And for incompetents like the Republicans, there's nothing meaner than the truth.
Also, though, I think in objective terms the economy's not looking good for almost everyone but the wealthy.