Obama, McCain prepare general election strategies

With McCain the GOP nominee and Obama shortly becoming the presumed Democratic nominee, both campaigns are examining their primary strategy in regard to changes needed to compete on a national level.

First, the story on McCain from Yahoo News:

MILWAUKEE – Freewheeling and scrappy during the primaries, John McCain is evolving into a more message-driven and deliberate candidate as he prepares for the contest with his expected Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.

He gives more speeches, lingers less among the people at events and spends more time raising money in private.

“My best venue and my most enjoyable venue, frankly, is a town-hall meeting because I learn and I listen and I get in touch with people,” the Arizona senator said during a question-and-answer session in Greendale, Wis.

But gone are the days when the Republican presidential hopeful would spend a day holding several of his hallmark ask-anything events and making surprise visits to local establishments. Constraints of time, logistics and priorities are taking over.

His daily interaction with the reporters who travel with him also has tapered off; more formal news conferences every few days are becoming the norm, partly out of a desire to project a precise message — and picture.

McCain acknowledges the changes, but told The Associated Press he would continue to press his advisers to make sure he has time in his schedule for the media and give-and-take with voters in town hall style settings. “We’ll have more of those. I love those. They’re the most important thing,” he said.

After wrapping up the GOP nomination in March, McCain openly worried about “losing the flavor of the campaign” and abandoning the impromptu style that put him on the national political map in 2000 and that helped bring him a primary victory eight years later.

I would say that McCain doesn’t have to do much to tailor his message to a national stage. He already speaks very moderately on a variety of issues such as economic policy and the environment. McCain does well in intimate settings answering questions from small audiences, he looks very comfortable there.

McCain’s biggest challenge nationally is going to be his ability to put together the grassroots activism and organize locally in all 50 states. Obama’s got a big head start in terms of local organization and presence.

Next, the story on Obama from Yahoo News:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – It’s Barack Obama’s party now. He beat the ultimate insider at the insider’s game. And he’s already turned his full-bore attention to the general election contest against Republican John McCain.

During a weekend in which Hillary Rodham Clinton mounted a likely last hurrah in Puerto Rico and national Democrats resolved the sticky issue of seating Florida and Michigan delegates under a formula favorable to Obama, the Illinois senator took a series of bold steps to signal his focus was riveted on the fall campaign:

• He severed all remaining ties with his Chicago church and politically meddlesome pastors who have preached from its pulpit.

• His campaign announced he would go to the lion’s den, the site of this summer’s GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., for a rally this Tuesday marking the end of the primary season.

• He stepped up his criticism of McCain, pummeling him on Iraq, Iran and veterans matters.

Former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, Obama’s top supporter here in South Dakota and leader of the effort to round up superdelegates, on Sunday predicted the floodgates would open this week as remaining superdelegates jump on the Obama bandwagon.

“I think we’re going to have a nominee before the end of this week,” Daschle said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The primary season ends Tuesday, with contests here and in Montana. Obama was spending Sunday, and all of Saturday, campaigning here.

Cutting ties with Trinity United was a big step toward running nationally. They had to wait this long, I’m assuming, so it didn’t become a story during the primaries after the Rev. Wright issue. Now he’s just about free and clear as the nominee in a situation where he can drop a couple news stories now which will disappear before the general.

Obama has also taken his message straight to McCain, almost daily calling him a “Bush 2.0” or stating that McCain will be “Bush’s third term.”

The biggest difference between Obama and McCain I would say has to do with the Iraq War. I believe that will be the biggest bone of contention this election season. Of course gas prices will continue to be a topic of discussion if they continue going higher but I don’t think most voters actually believe a politician can lower the price of gas, aside from cutting the gas tax.