McCain's people speak

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Creative Loafing is reaching out to election losers.

In a Time Magazine article released today, Sen. John McCain's aide Mark Salter reflects on Tuesday's loss.

The morning after John McCain's defeat, Mark Salter, McCain's closest aide and biographer, sipped coffee in the courtyard of the Biltmore Resort and Spa while explaining why the national political press had assisted Barack Obama. "On top of everything, we had a thumb on the scale," he said, referring to the media's role in refereeing the campaign. "It wasn't right, but it was what it was." (See pictures of John McCain's campaign farewell.)

Salter argued, as he has for weeks in private conversations, that the press was skewed for several reasons. "McCain was the story they had covered. He was a 2000 news story," Salter said, while Obama was the new guy. He said the press was also swayed by the possibility of America electing its first black President, who could get the country "past the old racial baggage we have lugged around for so many years." "I understand that appeal," Salter continued, sounding neither bitter nor upset. "I think McCain probably, as you can tell from his speech last night, felt part of that a little himself. And I think that required the press, then, to start rationalizing McCain into something he wasn't."

Salter went on to say that the media wanted to embarrass the shit out of McCain and it's Obama's fault.

The changes to how McCain campaigned were forced by the press, Salter argued. "The fact that we didn't do the back-of-the-bus stuff is only a function that you guys really wouldn't let us," Salter said, referring to the media. "Once the cameras demanded to be there, it became, What can McCain say that we can circulate on the hour and embarrass the s___ out of him? So he just couldn't do it, and it wasn't a Bush hijacking or anything, it was recognizing reality. We were being mocked by the meta-narrative writers for being undisciplined, lacking a single central message."

Salter said that McCain would have preferred to campaign in the general election in the same way he campaigned in New Hampshire, but that the press and Obama made that impossible. "I think if we had gotten 10 town halls out of Obama," Salter said, "it would have come close to that. McCain's ideal as a general would have been flying around on an airplane with Barack Obama, debating in town halls and having dinner with him afterwards."

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