The Note: McCain Caught in Old Pull Between Center, Right

By Hope Ditto

Oct 31, 2008 8:53am

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports in Friday’s Note:

So as October is set to pass without a surprise . . .

Sen. Barack Obama wants us to be scared of something in the rearview mirror . . .

While Sen. John McCain wants us to be scared of something coming into view through the front windshield . . .

Both candidates are a little bit scared when their running mates get behind the wheel. . .

Republicans are mildly haunted by a ghost whose name cannot be mentioned . . . 

Democrats are counting on certain ghosts in Florida . . .

And McCain is dealing with a set of familiar demons.

Read the rest of The Note — and get all the latest on the 2008 election, Congress, the White House and the wide world of politics every day — from Rick Klein by bookmarking this link.

As he and his running mate tax the tax issue, and hope for a boost from an action hero Friday, McCain is caught in the same sort of push-pull that has defined his political career.

Call it the Palin Paradox: McCain seems unable to effectively fire up the GOP base without turning off independents. He can’t win without both, not this year, not in this climate. And Palin, for all the energy she’s inspired, has pretty much literally caused more trouble than she’s worth to the ticket.

Does this sound like total confidence? "The enthusiasm level is incredibly high," McCain told ABC’s Robin Roberts in Ohio, on "Good Morning America" Friday. "It’s higher than I’ve ever seen it in any campaign I’ve ever been in. I’m not predicting — well, I think, I’m confident that we’ll win, but this intensity level in the last several days has really been remarkable. And I’m enthusiastic."

"We’re going to fight it out on the economic grounds," McCain said.

If McCain really isn’t concerned about his running mate’s impact, well, he’s the one. "59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month," Michael Cooper and Dalia Sussman write in The New York Times. "And in a possible indication that the choice of Ms. Palin has hurt Mr. McCain’s image, voters said they had much more confidence in Mr. Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in Mr. McCain." 

(It’s Obama 51, McCain 40 in the latest NYT/CBS poll.)

Said ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, on "Nightline" Thursday: "When you look at the bottom line, Joe Biden helped Barack Obama with all voters. He made people feel better about Barack Obama. Sarah Palin has hurt John McCain with the broader electorate. It’s shown in poll after poll after poll."

Continue reading today’s Note by clicking HERE.

ABC News’ Hope Ditto contributed to this report.

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