With the latest polls showing him trailing Barack Obama by anywhere from five to ten points in Wisconsin, Republican John McCain brings his presidential campaign back to the Badger state this week.
He'll be in Waukesha, Mosinee and La Crosse for event which UW political scientist Charles Franklin says are all about firing up the Republican base. "When you're well out front, you can go into enemy territory and see how you do," says Franklin. But with his campaign dropping farther behind here, "he's gotta worry about turning about all the Republicans in the state that he can possibly turn out."
Even though Franklin says McCain's "maverick" image is still resonating with many, these visits are unlikely by themselves to sway many undecided voters. "He's playing a game of traditional politics . . . go where your friends are and try to turn them out in as big a number as you possibly can."
Franklin says the economy continues to dog McCain's efforts to gain traction here. "McCain's answers are kind of stuck on a free market story at a time when deregulation suddenly has a really bad name. While deregulation looked like a good theme for Republicans a few years ago, right now it's poison." Franklin believes McCain's his proposal for a massive government buyout of overvalued mortgages doesn't appear to have done much to change his poll numbers.