For a brief moment this summer, it looked as if Mike Murphy was going to be the guy steering the good ship McCain. That didn't happen. But it's still interesting to see what pre-debate advice Murphy would have offered McCain had he been put in charge of his campaign--advice that Murphy concedes is "probably the opposite" of the advice McCain's actually getting:
McCain should borrow a technique from the Palin playbook and look mostly into the camera, directly addressing the home audience. He should imply a gentle mea culpa; the stakes for America are so high and this election is so important that he found himself doing things to win it that he has spent his political life fighting against. That is now over and he will stand or fall on making his positive case directly to the American people. He should talk about being the tough sheriff Washington needs to slam back the special interests in both parties and lead a bi-partisan Washington that will fix the economic crisis at home and protect us abroad. A President not allied to one party, but to our national purpose. He shouldn't sneer and mock Obama; praise him instead as good hearted and ready to mightily assist in this great mission but not yet prepared to lead it. Sell bi-partisan balance versus a one party Washington without checks and restraint. Gently imply that Obama's problem is his weakness, his need to please rather than lead. Leave the nasty snarls locked up in the green room. Forget earmarks and small policy. Talk big and lead big.
We'll see in a few hours.