McCain Sees Sudden, Happy, Bump Up In Polls

Finally, some good news for John McCain. After weeks of political setbacks and rising doubts about his sagging presidential campaign, the Arizona senator is moving back up in the polls. A CNN survey released yesterday show that McCain has closed the gap with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani now leads McCain by only three points for the GOP nomination -- 27 per cent to 24 per cent. A month ago, Giuliani led by 16 points. The latest American Research Group poll found Giuliani leading McCain by four points -- 27 to 23 per cent. Allies of McCain, once the GOP front runner, see this as a sign of his hoped-for comeback.

One theory in political circles is that McCain's speech backing the Iraq war last week gave him a boost among pro-Iraq war conservatives who admire his persistence in defending the conflict when public opinion has turned against it. McCain is being urged to jettison his strategy of trying to be the Establishment candidate and instead go back to his maverick ways.

Some political insiders want McCain to bill himself as the "candidate of conscience" and to find a few more issues on which he can stand up to powerful interests in his party, stake out a principled position, and "let the chips fall where they may," says a McCain admirer. "He should do what worked for him in 2000 and not dilute the quality that drew the most attention" -- his independence.

By Kenneth T. Walsh