"Don't call him a liberal . . .
It makes it look like you're losing."
Republican presidential frontrunner John McCain scrapped a scheduled satellite interview with KY3 News this afternoon in favor of interviews with cities in delegate-rich California.
The most interesting part of the satellite interviews actually came in between the interviews, when advisers whispered advice to McCain.
At one point an adviser named Steve (could be adviser Steve Schmidt?) instructed McCain not to call rival Mitt Romney a liberal, to McCain's chagrin. "Don't call him a liberal," the adviser told McCain with his microphone on. "It makes it look like you're losing," he added.
After McCain asked why, the adviser replied, "Trust me on this." The adviser then muttered something about "Bush voters," but that comment was unclear.
At another point between interview breaks, McCain told his adviser that he would stress the "troop withdrawal message" with local reporters around the country. "I think that's what made the difference in Florida," McCain said between interviews, referring to his criticism of Mitt Romney for setting a timetable for withdrawal. McCain hammered that message repeatedly in interviews.
McCain also made it clear he wanted news organizations to focus on a letter written today by former Senator Bob Dole to Rush Limbaugh, touting McCain's conservative credentials.
"We got to get that out there before the evening news," McCain instructed an aide. "Does CNN have it," he later asked.
During the actual taping of interviews, McCain stayed on message. "We expect to do extremely well throughout the country Tuesday, and come out with a very, very big lead in delegates."