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Next test for McCain and Palin: winning undecideds

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“This is not a Karl Rove play-the-base strategy,” he added, referring to President Bush’s former strategist who won elections with partisan wedges like gay marriage and abortion. “This is a really significant shift away from that.”

“Can you imagine how they’re going to shake up Washington?” former New York mayor and GOP presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani called out in his speech here Wednesday, referring to McCain and Governor Palin. “Look out!”

A new television ad – casting Palin as a bipartisan reformer and “Alaska maverick” – underscores the approach.

“The Palin nomination excited and united the base,” says James Campbell, a political scientist at the University at Buffalo, in New York. “Now he has to win over moderates.”
By Professor Jacobs’s estimate, McCain would have to win some 55 percent of independents and more than 15 percent of Democrats – a tall order – to defeat Senator Obama.

The week yielded some encouraging signs for Republicans. McCain’s choice of Palin as running mate drew rave reviews from conservatives wary of the Arizona senator – plus $7 million, the campaign’s largest single day of contributions. Speakers at the Xcel Energy Center here nailed in place the image of McCain as a battle-tested American hero with a proven record of reform, in contrast to a Democratic rival longer on words than deeds.

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