Even as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama held their first joint campaign appearance today in New Hampshire, new polls show Obama is rapidly consolidating his sizable leads among women in general and Clinton supporters in particular.
Which means that John McCain chose the wrong day to make a wife-beating joke.
As the Huffington Post reported, McCain in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun headed for the gutter while trying to explain why he did not choose Republican Governor Jim Gibbons (now in the midst of a messy divorce and previously the subject of sexual assault allegations) as his Nevada campaign chair:
McCain: I appreciate his support. As you know, the lieutenant governor is our chairman.
Q: Why snub the governor?
McCain: I didn't mean to snub him. I've known the lieutenant governor for 15 years and we've been good friends....I didn't intend to snub him. There are other states where the governor is not the chairman.
Q: Maybe it's the governor's approval rating and you are running from him like you are from the president?
McCain: (Chuckling) And I stopped beating my wife just a couple of weeks ago...
At an Ohio press conference today, McCain only dug himself a deeper hole. Trying to evade a reporter's question about Barack Obama's assertion that "John McCain, if he's elected, is going to pick a Supreme Court that will roll back every gain women have made in the last 50 years," a testy McCain claimed "I think my record speaks clearly for itself."
And that could be a problem for Mr. Straight Talk. As Jon at Perrspectives notes in a discussion about the supposed maverick's failing outreach to Clinton supporters, leave aside for the moment McCain's horrendous stands on the issues most important to women voters. It's McCain's horrendous behavior towards American women, including those closest to him, that should send Clinton backers fleeing for the exits.
UPDATE: Many commenters seem to think that this is no big deal and that I'm unfamiliar with the famous "gotcha" question of "When did you stop beating your wife?". Those commenters are missing the bigger picture. The response--especially from a man with a reputation for being a hothead--is wholly inappropriate, kind of like Donald Trump saying his daughter was hot. A presidential candidate should not be making a joke like that which can be so easily taken out of context...can you imagine how the media would have played and played it if Barack Obama--or worse, Bill Clinton--had said the same thing in the same context? Further, McCain is supposed to be trying to win over some of Hillary Clinton's supporters...the point of the post is asking how this kind of tone-deafness and latent misogyny (again, something the blogosphere seems to find untroubling, which I personally find disturbing) is going to attract those supporters.