John McCain’s campaign stop in Hamilton yesterday left a lot of political observers scratching their heads.
It made sense when McCain scheduled the stop late last month, when he was catching up to Rudy Giuliani in the polls here. But since Giuliani has dropped out, McCain’s New Jersey lead has been in the double digits, leading many to wonder why he would waste his time in a state considered safe for him, especially as polls showed him trailing Mitt Romney in California.
But State Sen. Bill Baroni, who heads McCain’s New Jersey campaign, said that it was about more than just bolstering his primary vote in this state – it’s also about making him a competitive candidate in the general election.
“Senator McCain’s visit, while very helpful for February 5th, is also very helpful for November. The rally was held in a town that not only is going to have a good size turnout for the primary, but also a town for the November election – a blue collar, kind of Reagan democratic town,” said Baroni. “I don’t think any visit to Hamilton is ever a bad decision.”
For today, Baroni said that the campaign is targeting a core group of about 100,000 Republican voters and using phone banks that were previously set aside for Rudy Giuliani. The turnout so far, he said, is not exceptionally high but on target with what the campaign was projecting.
McCain supporters will gather tonight at the Hilton Garden Inn in Hamilton.