John McCain's political zigzags are raising concern among senior Republicans that voters will consider him too impulsive and prone to making snap judgments.
GOP strategists say the Republican nominee has seemed a bit rash in some cases, such as when he announced that he was "suspending" his campaign until a deal is reached in Washington on the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street or an alternative. GOP insiders also are worried, specifically, that his earlier call for postponement of tonight's debate with Barack Obama in Mississippi might come across as a political ploy.
The suspension of his campaign was "the mother of all Hail Marys," designed to divert attention from his decline in the polls, says a former adviser to a GOP president.
McCain's sudden appearance in Washington to break the logjam yesterday didn't seem to help the negotiations, and some Democrats say McCain didn't contribute any important ideas to the discussions at the White House.
"McCain is zigging and zagging, attacking and trying to figure out what his next tactical step is," says a senior GOP insider with strong ties to Capitol Hill. "But it's very difficult for McCain to separate himself as a Republican from the last eight years of Republican rule."
However, McCain loyalists say his approach will be proven correct. They say that at least he is trying to move the Washington establishment toward a compromise while Obama "looks like he's fiddling while Rome burns."