Barack Obama fails to shine alongside John McCain
a) You don't go on holiday in the middle of the most important events of your life.
Anyone who runs a small business, a shop or a service and who hasn't been able to take a holiday for several years because times are hard, is not going to vote for somebody who is lolling on a beach in Hawaii. Meanwhile Russian tanks are rolling across Europe again, people are being blown to bits in Iraq and the economy is in turmoil. Pass the sun cream.
b) You don't say "Answering that is above my pay grade" in a town hall meeting or debate with the other candidate.
No matter that it was an awkward question about abortion, you've got to answer and share your opinion. McCain answered instantly, of course - the wrong answer, but at least he answered. If you don't have a ready answer, the way of explaining that is not by saying that it's "above your pay grade", you simply say that there is no easy answer and take it from there.
c) He should be planning to end the war in Afghanistan, not to escalate it.
Afghanistan is an unwinnable war. All such remote invasions are doomed to failure, because in the end the invader has to go home, and the enemy is never going to surrender. Ergo, when the invader goes home the enemy has the victory. Let them sit and plot there, and simply use intelligence, vigilance and restrict their supplies to foil their efforts.
He better put Hillary Clinton on the ticket, because he surely needs her now.