The second in a series of spin room interviews following this weekend’s debates.
“We like where it stands, and it feels even better right now than it did in 2000,” said McCain chief media strategist and Bush advertising czar Mark McKinnon (pictured) after the Republican debate Saturday night. “It looks like lightning is striking twice.”
For the McCain campaign, the goal is either a win or to finish “close” to the winner, McKinnon said.
But for others, the states may be higher.
“Romney’s gotta win,” McKinnon added, “or he’s out.”
McCain supporters did not apologize for the senator’s shots at Mitt Romney during the debate.
“Every candidate feels that maybe Governor Romney has been over the line at times,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a longtime a McCain friend, in the spin room Saturday night.
Graham predicted Romney’s attack-dog style would hurt him in New Hampshire.
“What happened in Iowa is going to repeat itself here,” he said. “You’re not going to get rewarded for going after people in a way that’s really not fair.”
McKinnon, too, made no apologies — and said McCain was not the only Republican who had been mistreated by Romney.
“I think that’s the one common denominator among all the candidates up there: they all agree that Mitt Romney has changed positions over the course of this campaign, he’s been inconsistent, and he’d be a bad general election nominee,” he said.
Some New Hampshire voters seem to agree. A Gallup poll on Sunday found McCain with a four point lead over Romney, while a CNN-WMUR poll gives the Arizona senator a six-point lead.
— Thomas Kaplan