|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Mr. McCain’s advisers, who bristle at the idea that they are trying to transform the candidate, say that his lack of smoothness merely reinforces his reputation for authenticity.
“Voters are looking for credibility and are wary of polish,” said Mark McKinnon, a former consultant to Mr. McCain’s campaign. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which candidate can more deftly read a teleprompter.”
Indeed, Mr. McCain and his advisers seem to be trying to present him as a kind of anti-Obama whose weaknesses as a political performer underscore his accessibility to regular voters.
“John doesn’t ever want to be something that he is not,” Mr. Salter said, including trying to pass himself off as a larger-than-life figure on stage. “There’s nothing in there about him that wants to be rarefied.”
Mr. McCain and his surrogates appear to be taking a page from the primary campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, which made a point of praising Mr. Obama’s speaking skills both to erase any expectation that she could match them and to imply that Mr. Obama was more of a performer than a leader. Nicolle Wallace, Mr. McCain’s new senior adviser, said the campaign would focus on having the candidate interact face to face with voters, “not from a center stage in the middle of a stadium.”
In an interview on his campaign plane, Mr. McCain said “my strongest environment is clearly the impromptu.” He added, “I don’t mean that in a way that denigrates Senator’s Obama’s speechmaking skills.”
He shrugged when asked whether he is improving as a speaker. “It’s fine, it’s fine,” he said. “It’s coming along.”
“I will continue to make mistakes,” he added.