Obama campaign made another big mistake

The Obama campaign team seems to have been  intimidated by Olympics coverage, so they held off on announcing a VP.  They had a  week or two to get some traction with a VP pick before their convention, but for some reason they held off.

Week one of the Olympics was all Michael Phelps. Ratings have dropped the second week with no single compelling figure. So instead of having a week with Obama and his VP  getting the spotlight before the convention, now there will  only be a day or two to sell the new team before the convention.  In the last week, John McCain has surged in the polls -- hardly the buildup the Obama team wanted or might have had with better timing of their decision.  If the Obama selection falls flat, which will likely be the case if it is anybody but Hillary Clinton, the storyline on Monday could  be Obama on his heels, needing a convention bounce to right the ship.

It now looks like Obama can't make up his mind, and is drifting. The campaign  is advertising heavily on the Olympics, and could have put up ads with him and his running mate.

Both John Nichols, the most sensible writer for the Nation (he's very left, but not so caustic; he said nice things about Tony Snow when he died, for example) and Nate Silver of fivehtiryeight.com are now both pushing for Hillary for VP.

There appears to be a bit of panic in the Obama camp. Ayers and the infanticide issue are not  going away, and the appearance of a cover-up on Obama's relationship to Annenberg and Bill Ayers only draws more attention to his track record of failure as a reformer.   

Obama's team is now playing defense. Middle East advisor Daniel Kurtzer's freelancing visit to Syria also hurts.  Russia, fresh off an ugly aggression into Georgia, is signing new defense treaties  with Syria.  Jimmy Carter will speak at the Convention. Neither helps Obama with the Jewish vote, which is slipping away a bit.

I think the Obama campaign thought they would coast to a win, and shock people by the margin due to their ground game investment paying off with many new voters.  They simply got too full of themselves. This showed up in Obama's overseas trip, which should have been limited to Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Afghanistan -- places where the candidate could learn the facts on the ground. In London, Berlin, and Paris, it appeared that Obama was grandstanding as a presumptive President, not a presumptive nominee of his party.

In the past two days, state polls show McCain within the margin of error for the first time in Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. This puts two more blue states in play, to add  to Michigan and Minnesota, and McCain has opened up nice leads in Ohio and Missouri, despite the Obama campaign's heavy investment in advertising  and the ground game in those states. 

No one can predict the bounces that will occur from two conventions held back to back, a rarity.  But what the Obama team could control -- the timing of their VP selection, they appear to have punted on third down.

Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.