With all the hub bub over the Democratic nomination, it's easy to forget that there is a third man in the race who now can step front and center to claim an equal share of coverage for his campaign. And he can boost that prospect by buying some strategically placed ads.
For the last few weeks, Senator McCain has bought ads in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida all with the same message; that he is the best candidate to guide the economy through this rough patch we are in. By most accounts, the ads have been received favorably as they tend to buttress the candidate's case that he has the experience to lead the country effectively while his opponent isa neophyte.
But beyond tha ads, McCain has also put out some fairly well received policy positions. Last week, he received encouragement from some governments and experts here in the US for his boosting of the "League of Democracies" - a group of democratic countries who would act where the UN failed.
Now McCain is calling on businesses and governments to stop investing in Iran and divest themselves of investments they already have:
Speaking to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington this morning, Sen. John McCain mocked his presidential rival for thinking he could solve the threat Iran proposes by holding high-level talks, and he proposed a range of sanctions against Iran as well as the launch of a worldwide divestment campaign similar to the one used to wipe out apartheid in South Africa.
McCain pledged his support to increasing military aid to Israel, which is scheduled to begin in October, and helping Israel maintain its military edge.
"Foremost in all our minds is the threat posed by the regime in Tehran," McCain said. "The Iranian president has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and suggested that Israel's Jewish population should return to Europe. He calls Israel a "stinking corpse" that is "on its way to annihilation." But the Iranian leadership does far more than issue vile insults. It acts in ways directly detrimental to the security of Israel and the United States."
McCain described Iran as a sponsor of both terrorist groups Hamas and Hazbollah, and said it has trained, financed and equipped extremists in Iraq who have killed American soldiers. "It remains the world's chief sponsor of terrorism and threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East, from Basra to Beirut," he said.
McCain criticized Sen. Barack Obama for his willingness to hold talks with the leader of Iran, noting that it's been tried before without success.
"The Iranians have spent years working toward a nuclear program. And the idea that they now seek nuclear weapons because we refuse to engage in presidential-level talks is a serious misreading of history," McCain said, calling its nuclear program "an unacceptable risk.
In a statement from the Obama campaign,a spokesman said McCain "stubbornly insists on continuing a dangerous and failed foreign policy that has clearly made the United States and Israel less secure."
But McCain said previous administrations have already tried Obama's approach without success.
"In reality, a series of administrations have tried to talk to Iran, and none tried harder than the Clinton administration. In 1998, the secretary of state made a public overture to the Iranians, laid out a roadmap to normal relations, and for two years tried to engage," he said. "The Clinton administration even lifted some sanctions, and Secretary Albright apologized for American actions going back to the 1950s. But even under President Khatami -- a man by all accounts less radical than the current president -- Iran rejected these overtures."
Despite a Gallup poll saying a majority of Americans want their president to talk to enemy leaders, McCain realizes such a gesture would be futile and, in the end, self defeating. There is nothing wrong with talks at the consular or ambassadorial levels. We have had those talks with Iran and will continue to do so. But McCain's ideas of putting pressure on the Iranians where they are most vulnerable - their economy - will probably do more good in the long run.
McCain has been playing it ver cagey these last months as the Democrats have tried to destroy each other. He is following one of the oldest of political maxims; "Don't get in the way of your opponent when they are doing everything they can to lose the election."