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Next Stop, Berkeley

The last time John McCain visited Iowa, all he got out of it was an embarrassing video of his testy meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register and a column by former strategist Mike Murphy that derided the "stunning lack of competence in the McCain operation" and asked "Why put McCain in the wrong state, at the wrong place?"

But give McCain points for obstinance, if nothing else. As Jonathan Martin points out, he's headed back to Iowa for a rally in Davenport on Saturday. Why? Dan Balz reports:

Asked why, if he has given up on Michigan, McCain has not given up on Iowa, a state that looks strong for Obama in public polls, [McCain Political Director Mike] DuHaime said because the campaign's polling has Obama's lead in the low single digits. 

Hmm. There hasn't been a ton of recent polling in Iowa, presumably because no one sees much point: lists it as "strong" Obama, RCP says "solid" Obama, and FiveThirtyEight gives Obama a 96 percent chance of winning there. Of the last ten polls listed on, only one has had the race closer than 7 points (the inaugural "Big Ten" poll, which was conducted in mid-September) and a majority have Obama's lead in double digits. So either this visit is some kind of misplaced confidence game on McCain's part, or his polls are, frankly, nuts. 

Not as nuts, however, as his campaign manager. Also in the Balz piece was this gem: 

Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, told reporters after the debate that he still likes his candidate's situation. Better, he said, to be defending red states than having to convert blue states to win. McCain has a lot of them to defend -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

Yes, much better to be playing defense all game. After all, it's easier to keep your opponent from scoring a touchdown than to score one youself! The recriminations that come out of the McCain camp if he loses are going to make the Clinton campaign look like, well, the Obama campaign.

--Christopher Orr