‘Turn the page’

‘TURN THE PAGE’…. Explaining the campaign’s intention to shift from policy to personal attacks, Greg Strimple, one of John McCain’s top advisers, told the Washingtn Post that the campaign is “looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis.” It’s a quote Strimple probably wishes now he hadn’t made.

The Obama campaign’s Dan Pfeiffer told the Politico yesterday that McCain’s “desire to avoid discussing the economy is something we will remind voters of everyday for the next month.”

And according to the prepared text of a speech Obama is scheduled to deliver today in Asheville, North Carolina, the senator is taking full advantage of the opportunity.

“[O]n Friday, we learned that we’d lost another 159,000 American jobs in September. It was the ninth straight month of job losses — more than three quarters of a million this year, including 24,000 here in North Carolina. And it came just as we finished a week in which our financial markets teetered on the brink of disaster.

“Yet instead of addressing these crises, Senator McCain’s campaign has announced that they plan to turn the page on the discussion about our economy and spend the final weeks of this campaign launching Swiftboat-style attacks on me.

“Think about that for a second. ‘Turn the page’ on the economy? We’re facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and John McCain wants us to ‘turn the page?’ Well, I know the policies he’s supported these past eight years and wants to continue are pretty hard to defend. I can understand why Senator McCain would want to ‘turn the page’ and ignore this economy.

“But I also know this: You’re trying to pay your bills every week and stay above the water — you can’t ignore it. You’re worrying about whether your job will be there a month from now — you can’t ignore it. You’re worrying about whether you can pay your mortgage and stay in your house — you can’t turn the page. […]

“Senator McCain and his operatives are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance. They’d rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up. It’s what you do when you’re out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time.”

The Obama campaign is laying the groundwork for the rest of the week very effectively, and with some ill-advised quotes, the McCain campaign is helping them. The next time McCain and his surrogates bring up Ayers (or Rezko, or Wright), the immediate and obvious question will be, “Why are you trying to stop talking about the economy?”

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Steve Benen

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.