Column: Tight Presidential Race Calls For Change In Republican Strategy

This story was written by Jimmy Paul, Daily Orange

The gloves are off, the brass knuckles are out and Sens. John McCain andBarack Obama are in an intense throw-down this month before Election Day. While McCain would love to battle over foreign policy and Obama's nave intentions to meet with evil dictators, this year the winner of the competition will come down to economic policies.

Most presidential elections have one key issue that stands out in voters' minds. In 2004, Americans were primarily concerned with the war in Iraq. At the time, one of Sen. John Kerry's reasons for losing the election was his inability to articulate a realistic, comprehensive alternative to the foreign policy of President George Bush.

McCain is in danger of following in Kerry's footsteps. Unless he is willing to settle for second place, it is time for McCain to take initiative and promote a distinct economic vision for this country. "McCain is in huge trouble," said Gabrielle O'Leary, freshman psychology major. "He doesn't appeal to the middle class and seems out of touch."

This perception some Americans have is something he must debunk in the weeks ahead.

McCain needs to show compassion and empathy, something he has failed to do so far. He is certainly capable of displaying a personal side, as evidenced by his prisoner of war stories from Vietnam. These are touching and incredible accounts. He must use this communication skill in discussing the economy.

Also, McCain must stress his impressive record of proposing important legislation. From campaign finance to climate change and immigration reform, he has shown the ability to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve America.

This bipartisan record will appeal to voters. It will come in handy when dealing with the financial crisis, since no singular bill will completely solve the problem.

Most importantly, McCain needs to hit hard on Obama's economic policies, or lack thereof. Obama often makes the ridiculous claim that he will only raise taxes on those families in the highest tax bracket. But Politico.com has reported that under the Illinois senator's policy, small firms would face tax rates approaching 50 percent. His policy would cripple American businesses-- something McCain must quickly point out.

Left-wing economic policies are more disastrous now than ever before. After all, these are the policies that will take money away from hard-working Americans only to be wasted by an inflated federal government.

McCain needs to make the case that his fiscally conservative platform would be beneficial to middle-class Americans. He must promise to keep taxes low and cut federal spending.Voters are unsure how effectively McCain will combat the financial crisis.

"People are more confident in Obama and the Democrats to deal with the economic problems," said Margaret Susan Thompson, Syracuse University history professor. "He is paying a price for being a member of the party that is currently in power."

The McCain campaign should be ashamed. There is absolutely no way a big-government, tax-and-spend liberal like Obama should have the voters' approval when it comes to the economy, regardless of Bush's approval ratings.

McCain needs to focus on issue of substance. Stop trying to link Obama to men like anti-war activist William Ayers and controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright.

"It won't have an impact on how people vote," said Laura Perdiue, junior information studies and marketing major.

Yes, the associations certainly do exist, but only the Republican base seems to mind. Independent and undecided voters do not care. They want to hear specific proposals for the next four years.

This election wot come down to Obama's questionable acquaintances. It won't be decided by 'Saturday Night Live' sketches, Sarah Palin's reading material or Joe Biden's uncanny ability to put his foot his in mouth.

During the last debate and his final campaign appearances, McCain must get his act together on the economy. Otherwise, he will lose this election, leaving Republicans with nothing to do but lament the fact that they did not nominate Mitt Romney.