(above : the Matt Ufford of presidential candidates)

The Washington Times’ Stephen Diman
on what might amount to a virtual whistle-stop tour of the nation’s basements.

Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign is trying to tap a new audience of potential voters by taking his campaign message straight to liberal and nonpolitical issues-based blogs, which reach millions of readers but don’t often delve into conservative politics.

The strategy was in full swing yesterday when Mr. McCain invited non-conservative bloggers to join his regular blogger conference call, just hours after he delivered a major speech previewing his war strategy and other priorities for a first presidential term.

Going forward, McCain staffer Patrick Hynes said, the campaign would like to have Mr. McCain talk to sports bloggers, too, as a way to “humanize John McCain as something other than a carbon-copy politician running for office, delivering talking points.”

On yesterday’s call, Mr. McCain fielded seven questions, including three from non-conservative bloggers: Kate Sheppard, political reporter for environmental Web site Grist.org; Joanne Bamberger of PunditMom (http://punditmom1. blogspot.com); and Erin Kotecki Vest, who blogs at catchall site BlogHer.com as well as liberal sites HuffingtonPost.com and MOMocrats.com.

“I give them an A for effort,” Ms. Vest said in a phone interview after the conference call.

She asked Mr. McCain whether the vision he laid out yesterday of U.S. troops succeeding in Iraq by 2013 didn’t amount to the sort of timetable he has criticized when Democrats propose a specific date for withdrawal.

Mr. McCain shot right back: “Either you didn’t read or didn’t understand my speech. One of the two.”

Ms. Vest said she “read it and understood it just fine, and I don’t understand how 2013 isn’t a date.”

Though I doubt Can’t Stop The Bleeding will be amongst the sports blogs invited to speak with Senator McCain, I would like to stress to the campaign that unlike a certain Nick Denton property, no registration is required to participate in CSTB’s comments. So if the GOP’s nominee feels like stopping by, I’m pretty sure Rog will be right here waiting for him.