IF THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN IS AFRAID OF MADDOW…. Especially at this point in the campaign cycle, Team McCain seems pretty anxious to get on television on repeat its carefully crafted talking points.

But there’s one highly-rated show the McCain campaign apparently afraid of: MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” ThinkProgress reports:

Discussing the lack of impact Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) inclusion on the McCain ticket has had with women voters (according to the latest CBS-New York Times poll), Maddow last night noted that McCain surrogates have repeatedly declined invitations to appear on the show. […]

A long list then ran on the screen of McCain surrogates who have turned Maddow down, including senior campaign advisers Carly Fiorina, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Meg Whitman, Ed O’Callaghan and others.

Maddow told viewers, “[W]e hope to have someone from the McCain campaign or another Republican guest on the show tonight to talk about this issue as we have contacted them about other issues on other nights. But no matter the topics, thus far at least, they have repeatedly said no one is available.”

I’m reminded of last fall, when most of the Democratic presidential candidates decided not to participate in a debate hosted/co-sponsored by Fox News. A variety of mainstream news outlets and major figures were indignant about the decision, with many publicly asking whether Democrats could trusted to stand up to al Qaeda if they were “afraid” to answer questions from Fox News.

We can assume, of course, that similar questions will be asked of the McCain campaign now, right? After all, if McCain and his team are ready to take on a world of serious challenges, why are they afraid of a smart, highly-rated talk-show host?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.