Wow, this “McCain doesn’t know how many houses he has” story has caught fire on Memeorandum. It’s about time the Obama campaign goes on the offensive about this. It’s nice to see some media play given to this prime example of how out of touch McCain is with most Americans.
Politico broke the story:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.
“I think — I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. “It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.”
Here’s the audio.
Here is Obama’s new ad:
The new TV ad airing on national cable outlets today follows Obama’s campaign trail remarks about the report from Politico.com today that McCain, senior senator from Arizona and husband of a wealthy heiress whose family built one of the biggest beer distributorships in the country, couldn’t readily tally his home count.
It’s a sign, perhaps, of an awareness at camp Obama that a certain aggressive tactic may be called for heading into the national presidential nominating conventions at a time when Obama has had trouble capitalizing on the natural advantage that his party would seem to have in the presidential election campaign underway. While most voters say they are predisposed to vote Democratic, Obama has been running virtually even with McCain in the national polls – though Obama holds an apparent polling advantage in the electoral vote count.
“Maybe you’re struggling just to pay the mortgage on your home,” says the narrator of the Obama camapign ad, opening with an image of a modest brick bungalow and McCain’s assertions this week that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” (cue the foreclosure sign). The narrator ads: “Then again, that same day, when asked how many houses he owns… McCain lost track. He couldn’t remember.” It’s seven, the narrator says, with the screen tallying their value: $13 million.
The ad closes with an image of the White House: “Here’s one house America can’t afford… to let John McCain move into.”
Here’s what Obama said this morning:
“Somebody asked John McCain, ‘How many houses do you have?’ And he said, ‘I’m not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff,'” Obama said with a tone of incredulousness at an outdoor event here.
“If you don’t know how many houses you have, then it’s not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong,” he said. “But if you’re like me, and you got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don’t lose their home, then you might have a different perspective.”
The audience laughed and clapped, and then Obama added: “And, by the way, the answer is, John McCain has seven homes.” That, it turns out, is true.
Let’s be clear about what sparked this uproar. It wasn’t the fact that McCain owns seven homes, as obscene as that fact is when millions of Americans are losing their homes or didn’t have one to begin with. It was his confusion over how many homes he owns that did it. That’s the part that really shows how clueless he is about the economic struggles so many Americans are going through. Not only does this man own seven luxurious homes — he takes his ability to afford that kind of lifestyle so for granted, and is so unaware of how much at odds that puts him with the voters he is asking to put him into the White House, that he can’t even tell us how many there are! He actually has to consult his staff to find out the answer to that question!
That, writes Chris Cillizza at The Fix, is “why the home debate matters“:
In politics, there is nothing worse than appearing out of touch.
From time immemorial, a candidate who is effectively portrayed as forgetting about the “little” people, of having “gone Washington,” of living higher on the hog than voters, loses.
Class remains a powerful motivator for many voters in the country. Politicians are forever trying to cast their candidacies as closely rooted in the communities from which they sprung — a purposeful attempt to ensure that voters know that the candidate “understands the problems of people like you.” Put simply: The worst thing you can call a politician is an elitist.
And so, seen through that lens, it makes perfect sense why Democrats have picked up on John McCain’s comment that he wasn’t sure about how many houses he and his wife own — comments made to Politico’s Mike Allen and J-Mart — and why Republicans have fought back so quickly and so hard.
Let’s revisit the events of the last 24 hours.
The initial question, put to McCain during an interview in Las Cruces, N.M., seemed to catch the Arizona senator off guard. “I think — I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain said. “It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.” That’s not exactly the sort of definitive language that politicians and their handlers like to use when dealing with the media.
Matthew Yglesias thinks we should give the guy a break; there’s a good reason why he doesn’t know how many homes he owns:
I was wondering yesterday how it is that you manage to spend almost $4.7 million on a condo in Phoenix, and the answer turns out to be that the McCains bought two luxury condos and combined them. The $4.66 million figure is the combined price of his cribs. What’s more, at 2211 Camelback you’re not just paying for a swanky pad, you’re getting top-notch amenities like an edgeless rooftop pool and a concierge staff prepared to cater to your every whim. …
Amenities aside, though, this is one reason why it’s a bit unfair to tag McCain as out of touch for being unable to remember how many homes he owns. When one of your homes is really a combination of two different luxury condos the metaphysical status of your property comes into question. You’d really need to ask a trained professional [meteorologist] to resolve the issue and can’t expect McCain to speak to it personally.
Mother Jones has more on the difficulty of counting homes.
McCain’s spokesperson thinks we should give McCain a break for a different reason:
The McCain campaign is road-testing a new argument in responding to Obama’s criticism of his number-of-houses gaffe, an approach the McCain camp has never tried before: The houses gaffe doesn’t matter because … he was a POW!
“This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison,” spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post.
For those of you who haven’t kept track, the McCain campaign just recently cited McCain’s POW years in explaining away the Miss Buffalo Chip gaffe, and in dealing with the allegation that he broke the rules and listened in on Barack Obama during the Rick Warren forum.
A spokesman for Sen. John McCain vowed to retaliate against today’s story about how many houses the GOP candidate owns with a renewed focus on Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to a Chicago developer and charges that Obama is an elitist.
“We’re delighted to have a real estate debate with Barack Obama,” said spokesman Brian Rogers, adding that the press should focus on Obama’s house. “It’s a frickin’ mansion. He doesn’t tell people that. You have a mansion you bought in a shady deal with a convicted felon.”
The felon reference was to Tony Rezko, a former Obama friend and financial backer who was convicted on fraud and bribery charges this year. Rogers vowed to intensify efforts to link Obama to Rezko in the coming days.
“That’s fair game now,” he said. “You are going to see more of that now that this issue has been joined. You’ll see more of the Rezko matter from us.”
The McCain campaign was in full damage-control mode as the housing story took off today. Rogers tried to play down the story, saying that reports of the many McCain houses were overstated.
“The reality is they have some investment properties and stuff. It’s not as if he lives in ten houses. That’s just not the case,” Rogers said. “The reality is they have four that actually could be considered houses they could use.”
Ha ha ha! That’s funny! McCain and his wife “only” live in four houses. I mean, the multiple layers make one reel. Having FOUR HOUSES to live in is no big deal. And owning three other multimillion-dollar properties doesn’t count because they are “investment” properties. And stuff. Although, since Brian Rogers seems to think McCain has TEN houses, not seven, maybe that’s SIX homes that are “only” investment properties.