McCain humor and candor takes a backseat on campaign trail

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Vienna (Ohio, US), Sept.19 A New York Times report has claimed that Republican presidential candidate John McCain's sense of humor, candor and observations has taken a backseat as the campaign enters its last lap.

According to the paper, there was a time when McCain never worked to a predetermined script. But now with pressure building up on him and on Democratic rival Barack Obama to see which of two will be successful in wresting the White House, McCain is a "candidate transformed."

The paper claims that he rarely smiles and now he needs a teleprompter to help him through his brief speeches and sound bytes attacks that he used to dismiss with an eye roll.

"McCain's once easygoing if irreverent campaign presence - endearing to crowds, though often the kind of undisciplined excursions that landed him in the gaffe doghouse - has been put out to pasture. He takes far fewer chances, meaning there are fewer risqu jokes, zingers at a familiar face in the crowd, provocative observations on policy or politics, or exercises in self-derogatory humor," says the NYT.

It is there for all to see. His running mate, Sarah Palin of Alaska, riveted the overflow crowd for 16 minutes on Tuesday at an airplane hangar here, but when it came to McCain's turn, people in his audience began murmuring and drifting away midway through a 14-minute speech that was flat and cheerless.

McCain's aides say he will stay on in the same mould.

To a certain extent, the paper says McCain "is grappling with the fact that he is now a general election candidate in an environment where, more than ever, the other side is ready to seize on any slip-up, real or imagined."

"And what voters are seeing in these final weeks of the campaign is a deliberately retooled version of McCain," it adds.

"McCain is by all appearances struggling to stick to his script and avoiding, whenever possible, events that his campaign cannot control," it says.

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