One day McCain distances himself from Bus and the GOP, and the next he courts the conservative GOP base that he feels he must have to win.
[McCain continues] the political Ping-Pong game that is McCain's campaign, as he seeks to distance himself from President Bush and his party one day and then court the conservative Republican base the next.
It is a delicate and deliberate balancing act that aides say is designed to reinforce the maverick brand that separates McCain from the rest of his party without angering the traditional core of conservative Republicans. McCain's top strategists say that their candidate will not win in November merely by rallying the GOP base but that he cannot win without it, either.
Key to running against Obama, they say, is attracting white working-class Democrats -- many of whom are gun owners -- to the Republican column. "We're not trying to get a majority of blue-collar Democrats. But if McCain were to get, say, 20 percent nationally of blue-collar Democrats, he wins," McCain senior adviser Charlie Black told reporters recently. But, he added: "We know we have to unify our base and get them to turn out."