McCain struggles for headlines as Obama trots globe

July 25th, 2008 - 8:57 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Barack Obama
By Chris Cermak
Washington, July 25 (DPA) Republican presidential contender John McCain had to work extra hard for media coverage over the last week amid an international, headline-stealing whirlwind tour by his Democratic rival Barack Obama. Some of McCain’s manoeuvres have included slamming Obama’s Iraq policy and lack of military experience, hinting that he may announce his vice presidential pick and mocking the media’s wall-to-wall coverage of Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe.

McCain has continued a series of townhall meetings across the US, talking up the economy and energy and promising not to leave Iraq until the US can proclaim victory in the five-year-old war.

Yet he’s gotten scant coverage. With hundreds of reporters and even the nation’s top television news anchors travelling along with Obama, the press corps following McCain has dwindled. The New Hampshire Union-Leader reported that only one reporter and photographer greeted McCain as his plane touched down in the north-eastern state Tuesday night.

McCain has still found some novel ways to draw headlines. Journalists were miffed Monday after it appeared McCain’s campaign had purposely leaked a false rumour that he would announce his choice for vice president this week.

When asked Monday about the rumours, the Arizona senator just “smiled mischievously,” according to Jonathan Alter, a reporter with US magazine Newsweek.

“I got a suggestion from a very senior McCain aide … that he was going to announce this week,” Robert Novak, a veteran conservative columnist who first broke the story, told broadcaster Fox News.

“They were trying to get a little publicity to rain on Obama’s campaign,” Novak complained. “That’s pretty reprehensible if it’s true.”

McCain also drew attention with a new web video sent to campaign donors, which makes fun of the media’s focus on his Democratic opponent.

“There’s love in the air,” mocks the three-minute video, which shows clips of newscasters fawning over Obama since he announced his candidacy last year and plays romantic music in the background.

McCain has also taken more serious jabs at his opponent, arguing that Obama was intent on withdrawing from Iraq within 16 months despite opposition from US commanders on the ground, and criticizing his refusal to acknowledge that a troop “surge” has succeeded in fostering stability in Iraq.

Obama “would rather lose a war in order to win a campaign,” McCain told supporters in New Hampshire.

Obama has visited Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank since Saturday before heading to Germany, France and Britain. It’s his first trip abroad since capturing the Democratic nomination in June. The trip is largely designed to bolster Obama’s foreign policy credentials ahead of November’s general election and ease concerns over his lack of experience. Obama was elected to the US Senate in 2004.

McCain, a former Navy pilot who was captured and tortured for five years in Vietnam, has served 22 years in the Senate and has long been favoured on national security questions.

A Washington Post/APC poll this week showed 72 percent believe McCain would be a good commander-in-chief, compared to only 48 percent for Obama.

McCain had made a similar visit to Europe and the Middle East in March after securing the Republican Party’s nod to run in November’s general election.

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