NEW CANAAN, Conn. — The first ballot has yet to be tallied, but some Republicans are already hammering nails into the McCain-Palin campaign’s coffin.
Locked in a tight congressional race, Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut’s 4th district is the latest in a slew of Republican incumbents, including Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, to concede a near-certain victory to the Obama camp.
“I just don’t see how [McCain] can win,” Shays said in an interview here on Sunday.
Shays, the Connecticut co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said he was disappointed by the standards of McCain’s race, which has increasingly relied on mudslinging.
“He has lost his brand as a maverick; he did not live up to his pledge to fight a clean campaign,” Shays said.
But Shays — who is famous for never running a negative campaign ad, even when behind — said the negativity in the presidential race has nevertheless been flowing both ways. He said that though they have been diluted by positive ads, Sen. Obama’s campaign has empirically run a greater number of negative ones.
“Obama has four times the amount of money McCain has, so for every negative ad he runs he can balance it with an upbeat one,” Shays said. “McCain, on the other hand, has been nearly 100 percent negative.”
Shays laid much of the blame on the far right, which, he said, has “hijacked” the Republican Party, threatening to walk out if its demand are not met — despite being in the minority.
He said this situation is a cautionary tale for the Democratic Party, whose Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and MoveOn.org have imposed their often-radical ideas on the rest of the party.
But Shays also said he was skeptical of Sen. Obama’s promise to rule from the political center.
“It’s what all presidents should do, but [Obama] has never been there,” he said, referring to Obama’s left-of-center congressional record.
McCain’s other Connecticut co-chair, Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67, has not publicly commented on McCain’s chances on Election Day, but he has continued to campaign for him, most recently in Florida on Monday.
Jeff Grappone, New England communications director for the McCain campaign, did not return several requests for comment Monday.