John Dickerson has a new piece up discussing John McCain’s unlikely new outreach tour through Democratic strongholds. The theory, writes Dickerson, is that “even if voters disagree with McCain, they come away with a favorable gut-level sense of his character when they get to see him up close.” In other words, he wants to develop a visceral connection with voters similar to Obama’s—the factor that may have been (and continues to be) Clinton’s undoing.
Part of that all-round good-guy image for McCain has always been transparency. He’s weirdly diligent about answering questions at press conferences. He’s so generous about letting journalists aboard his campaign bus that they call it the Straight Talk Express without a trace of irony. And now his campaign announces that as president, he would hold a presser at least every two weeks.
If the goal of the new tour is partly to provide contrasts with Obama, the transparency angle is smart. Obama says he would helm the most transparent White House ever, but access on the campaign trail has been anything but complete . (Just ask Lynn Sweet .) And whereas Hillary has developed a reputation for stonewalling the press , Obama gets away with it. McCain may have found a soft spot.
Not that voters are going to cast their ballots based on who holds more press conferences. Nor is transparency an obvious line of attack for the Republican side, where executive-privilege theories have been used to justify greater privacy. But after the eight years of a president whose first and only media instinct has been to bunker down, both nominees would likely benefit from a bit more openness.