By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers.
The end came very fast for Sen. John McCain's presidential bid. Pollster Bill McInturff first got the exit polls about 2:30 p.m. on Election Day. He digested and recalculated them. "Within an hour," he says, "you know this isn't going to happen." So how did McCain lose? Well, as kids say, stuff happened. Topping McInturff's list: Obama was the first black presidential nominee and gave his acceptance speech on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The GOP convention was almost rained out by a hurricane over New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina's anniversary. And as the economy collapsed, McCain had to endorse a bailout he never would have backed had he not been running for president. Reason: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson begged him to. While he thinks playing up Barack Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would have worked to hurt the Democrat, McInturff backed McCain's decision to ignore the minister's inflammatory anti-America comments because it would have been seen as race-baiting and sparked racial anger and protests. "It would have delegitimized his presidency," says McInturff.