Neither presidential candidate has been inspiring crowds lately. Their handling of recent financial crises has been clumsy and cumbersome. But perhaps the most confusing recent decision was when both candidates decided to use the same campaign consultant -- former college football coach Lou Holtz.
Neither presidential candidate has been inspiring crowds lately.
Their handling of recent financial crises has been clumsy and cumbersome.
But perhaps the most confusing recent decision was when both candidates decided to use the same campaign consultant -- former college football coach Lou Holtz.
Many coaches use "coach speak" to keep from making incendiary comments that will motivate their opponents. However, no one will ever be able to over inflate an overmatched opponent like Holtz.
Listening to Holtz, you would have thought his national champion 1988 Notre Dame team was in dire straights as the winless Rice Owls headed to South Bend.
Every week, Holtz was able to explain how a team with no chance of beating the Fighting Irish, was a huge threat and had Touchdown Jesus shaking in his shoes.
You would think Barack Obama and John McCain would have professionals running their campaigns. But recent comments seem to prove that both men have taken a page from the Holtz playbook.
John McCain -- who has served in Congress since 1983, has experience in tough debates, including several attempts in the Republican presidential primary -- recently told a GOP crowd in Ohio, "Have no doubt about the capabilities of Sen. Obama to a debate. He's very, very good. He was able to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton, who, as we all know, is very accomplished. He was able to, with his eloquence, inspire a great number of Americans. These will be tough debates."
In that one comment, McCain was able to lower the expectations of his supporters, allowing him the opportunity to pull off the win as an underdog and bring back the ghost of Hillary Clinton and show her supporters that he thinks highly of her. The No. 1 reason Sarah Palin was put on the ticket is because Clinton wasn't selected by Obama.
Clinton beat Obama in Ohio, and McCain knows her supporters haven't made a smooth transition to the Obama camp.
Obama hasn't been available for comment lately. Like Rocky Balboa holed up in a snowbound Siberian cabin training for the fight of his life, Obama is secluded in a Tampa, Fla., hotel preparing for the debates.
John McCain never killed one of Obama's friends in a debate, but you wouldn't know it from the Democrat's preparation. He is studying and practicing his verbal jabs -- sparring with experts on several likely debate topics.
But his campaign spokesperson, Bill Burton, did comment on his candidate's chances in the debate: "Given his decades in Washington, John McCain literally has more experience debating than anyone who has ever run for president. If he can't show the skills he's acquired debating foreign policy, it will be a massive disappointment."
Burton, like McCain, tried to lower expectations while making subtle attacks on McCain's "decades in Washington" and making it possible for McCain's performance to be a "massive disappointment" if Obama holds his own on foreign policy issues.
Like Holtz warning his fans about how great the Rice quarterback is and how hard it will be for his team to score against the vaunted Owl defense, both camps are trying to lower expectations so that a small win is a success.
It also paves the way for a big win with a merely average performance.
Friday night's debate is important for voters to get a chance to see the candidates on the record for the first time since officially accepting their parties' nominations.
The polls will finally start to matter, as well. Polls early next week will be a good reflection of which campaign best managed expectations and prepared for the crucial exchange.
It will be interesting to see if either candidate can gain significant ground in the controlled combative confab.