Did McCain’s “Suspension” Gamble Work?

Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, political journalist Carla Marinucci says gambling fan John McCain played the odds with his actions this past week — and he may have crapped out:

With 38 days left in the presidential race, McCain’s unorthodox moves in the last week have created a sobering political story line: What did his roll of the dice do to his political profile?

“A president has to be steady on course. And the hallmark of presidents is that, in the 21st century, we’ve got to believe in their leadership skills – that they know how to take advice, make reasonable decisions,” said Michael Semler, professor of politics at California State University Sacramento. “They are not individual flyboys. They have to work with people.”

“Maverickdom,” he said, may be a label that political consultants like to tout – but voters may view with skepticism.

Mark Petracca, a professor of political science at UC Irvine, said that “a lot of that maverick label has come from McCain being erratic. Not just independent of partisan politics – but changing his mind on a dime,” he said.

“And these incidents – my campaign’s off; I’m not going to the debate – much more so than anything that went on in the debate, taught someone who doesn’t know much about McCain that he appears erratic and is prone to changing his mind on a dime.”

Garry South, a Democratic consultant who has prepped candidates at all levels, said McCain’s week, which closed with the debate – widely seen as won by Obama – failed to underscore the positive maverick profile and instead bolstered a potentially troublesome line about McCain’s personality.

“McCain had to look like someone on the ball and temperamentally capable of being president and commander in chief – and he has exacerbated the temperament issues,” said South.

Risky moves could define McCain’s leadership

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