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Some McCain Positives

Polls are mixed on the McCain-Obama race for president. But there are some good things coming out of the McCain story.

First on the polls: Rasmussen has McCain four points ahead, 46-42. This is the first time in nearly three weeks that either candidate has enjoyed a four-point advantage in the poll. Disenchanted Democrats are the key here, with 23 percent saying they’d vote for McCain. On the other hand, the IBD/TIPP poll and the Zogby poll have Obama up about 10 points. And the Intrade prediction market shows a 58 percent probability that Obama will win, with only 38 percent for McCain. This is a winner-take-all market, not a poll.

However, Bob Novak reports this morning that McCain is not going to disarm in the campaign — meaning that he will fight hard to portray Obama as an inexperienced candidate with some very strange associations (William Ayres, Jeremiah Wright, etc.). Novak reports that Karl Rove–protégé Tim Griffin, a leading practitioner of opposition research, has joined Mac’s campaign.

Also, on the campaign trail, McCain is hammering Obama for favoring the massive farm-bailout bill, which even liberal editorialists at the New York Times oppose. What’s more, Mac is beating Obama with a stick regarding the latter’s high-tax proposals.

I am particularly keen on tax attacks, since in a soft economy it just doesn’t make any common sense to be raising taxes — whether on cap-gains, high incomes, or middle-class Social Security payrolls. Few people outside of the far-Left social agenda really believe the answer for a weak economy is tax hikes. And Rasmussen’s polling shows that over 60 percent of Americans are opposed to the Obama tax-increase plans.

Interestingly, at Bob Tyrrell’s American Spectator dinner meeting last night, New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus repeated his view that just as Reagan grew out of the Goldwater campaign, Obama has grown out of the McGovern experience. In other words, the Illinois senator is a leftie on taxes, national security, big-government spending, non-defense of marriage, and other issues.

So if it quacks like a leftie and walks like a leftie, it must be a leftie. I hope McCain pounds away on this.

But one area that Mr. McCain has not yet tapped is the dollar. With oil at record levels and gasoline climbing, Sen. McCain must form an anti-inflation policy that emphasizes a strong greenback. This separates him from President Bush who has ignored the dollar, and speaks to middle-class anger over food and gas-pump prices. It would be tragic if Obama got to the strong dollar before McCain. Even worse, Americans will be baffled if neither candidate goes there.

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"