Can He Hold On?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 18, 2008 11:54 AM
Polls show McCain up in South Carolina.

And, he's getting good crowds
.

The campaign's also milking the dirty tricks story line:

A nasty flier touching on McCain’s POW experience has surfaced and a round of anti-McCain automated phone calls has been launched by a pro-Huckabee third-party group — but those are the same calls that were placed in every other early primary state. Other than that, there’s been little in the way of dirty tricks.

McCain’s lagging rivals don’t mention his name in stump speeches, they don’t criticize him and they aren’t even airing negative ads against him.

You’d hardly know that from the McCain campaign, though. They recognize that there is sympathy to be gained by playing the victim and they’re milking it for all it's worth.

The campaign is savvy enough to understand the almost unslakable thirst among national reporters to write stories heavy with tales of the sort of down-and-dirty tactics that characterized the race between McCain and George W. Bush in 2000.

The votes were barely all counted in New Hampshire before McCain began facing breathless questions such as, did he have any trepidation about going back to the South Carolina killing field?