This headline in the Washington Times today–’08 Hopefuls Wine, Dine for Support–struck me as funny today, since Gov. Romney doesn’t actually drink wine.
The article is interesting beyond the headline, however. It speaks of the aggressive “invitation under the door” technique that John McCain employed during the Republican Governor’s Association meeting in Miami–Gov. Romney’s home turf.
Mr. McCain’s well-organized campaign, however, has been stalking Republican gatherings of every kind for more than a year. For this event, McCain partisans, despite initial objections from Mr. Romney’s RGA, slipped invitations under Doral Hotel room doors Tuesday night, inviting Republicans to a reception the Arizona senator sponsored last night at Don Shula’s, a fancy and famous restaurant here.
Now, let’s pause for a second. Admittedly, I have little exposure to Sen. McCain. However, when we went to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, his “well-organized” campaign that has been “stalking Republican gatherings of every kind for more than a year” really did not come across as too competent. There, in March, he got up and announced that he did not want anyone to vote for him in the Hotline Straw Poll. Instead, he insisted that people cast their vote for…President Bush. Yes, the same President Bush who’s already been elected twice and cannot constitutionally run again. McCain was trying–in one fell swoop–to render the poll meaningless, to appear to be a team player with Bush, and to soften any weakness he may’ve had with the evangelical crowd. He paid young men to hand out stickers saying to vote for Bush. I talked to some of them–nice fellows–and asked, “Who are you going to put as your second place option?”
“Oh, I’m not going to vote,” they all said. “We’re just here holding the signs.”
Of course, all the heavy McCain presence did not translate into actual votes–for either him or the President–even though he’d reportedly brought 200 people to cast votes. President Bush came in fourth place, and McCain came in fifth. (See the raw data here. You might notice that a certain northern governor did pretty well in Memphis.)
Of course, this was just one event, one miscalculation. But I think the fact that McCain did not want Southerners to have a chance to say yay or nay to his candidacy speaks volumes. Not only does it indicate a weakness, it also indicates that his campaign’s fantastic organization can be beaten…