John McCain Takes Part in the Scattershot Gomez Campaign

It's hard to find a through-line in Gomez's attacks on Markey.

Gabriel Gomez took a break from calling for U.S. Senate term limits to accept the endorsement of a man elected when Crocodile Dundee was the number one movie in the country. John McCain of Arizona remains reasonably popular in the Bay State—certainly relative to other national Republican figures—but his real value is among the GOP donor class. They are happy to pony up for a McCain-in-the-flesh fundraiser, so he swung through town to get their checks for his new pal Gomez—who he unfortunately referred to as “Gabriel Giffords” at the preceding media event.

That event, at a Dochester VFW post, was not well attended, but that wasn’t really the point. The idea was to get some media attention for the McCain endorsement while the Senator was in town, and the media were there. Janet Wu, Jon Keller, Michelle McPhee, Sharman Sacchetti, Scot Lehigh, and more showed up to see McCain speak for about 10 minutes to some 100 people about the “young man” running for Senate.

McCain is usually pretty good about hitting the one or two themes he’s told to focus on at these things in between his small but apparently ageless stable of stump jokes. It was hard to figure what those key takeaway points were supposed to be this time, however. He mentioned the need for bipartisanship. He also made a point of saying that Gomez will be “part of the solution” against the very serious issue of “sexual mistreatment” of women and men in the military.

But he didn’t really bash Ed Markey on foreign policy, which is what the Gomez campaign has been doing around this McCain visit.

Gomez himself did a little of that in his introduction of McCain. He went after the new favorite target of Markey’s two votes against resolutions recognizing the victims of the 9/11 attacks. This is what the kids on the social medias these days call “weaksauce,” and it is unlikely to gain any more traction than when Steve Lynch tried it in the primary. It only means something if you’re arguing that Markey doesn’t care about victims of tragedy, and aside from the most hardcore partisans, very few voters are likely to believe that about any officeholder, let alone a longstanding one. And for those who will ever actually hear Markey’s explanation for the votes, it makes him look good and Gomez look bad. (He voted no because they contained false propaganda tying the need for the Iraq War to 9/11; does Gabriel believe that lie, or is he saying Markey should have endorsed the lie rather than expose himself to cheap manipulation of his vote by unscrupulous future opponents like Gomez?)

It’s all part of the seemingly random potshot of the day that has defined the Gomez campaign to date. For a couple of days it was all about how Markey is AWOL on the trail. Whenever the opposition releases a predictable attack, the Gomez campaign becomes all about how disgraceful the attack is. When reporters have questions about the whole easement thing, the campaign becomes all about Markey’s unreleased tax returns.

It’s all incredibly unfocused, as today’s Dorchester appearance was. There’s still time in the campaign, but I’m having a hard time seeing what narrative the campaign is laying down to build on in the closing weeks.