Political junkies have been fascinated watching Senator John McCain’s “heat week”. In case you’ve been comatose watching David Hasslehasbeen on America’s Got Talent, Sen. McCain recently escalated his attacks against Mitt Romney.

If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d think McCain was running one-on-one against the former Massachusetts governor. It seems Camp McCain doesn’t think Rudy can run in front much longer. Sure, Rudy’s numbers are still enviable, but there has been slippage in recent weeks as more and more likely voters get to know his positions.

So does McCain view Romney as his chief obstacle to the nomination, or is he just trying to rough him up on the abortion issue in hopes Fred Thompson is paying close attention? Because Fred, as we now know, will have his own ‘splainin’ to do about some pro-choice responses on old candidate questionnaires.

McCain isn’t in as much trouble as his opponents would have us believe. But clearly Romney’s operation has surprised them and it shows. Remember, this nomination was to be handed to him in the same way it was gifted to Bob Dole in 1996 like a shiny gold watch after 30 years of service. But if McCain still wants to win this nomination, he’s going to have to chew it off someone’s wrist and go running from the RNC convention hall with the bloody stub.

In case you missed it, here’s what some folks are saying about McCain’s new strategy:

Jake Tapper, ABC: “On Wednesday the campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., issued a press release attacking [Romney]… When you probe a little deeper, though, it turns out on that same day, May 27, 2005, Romney was certainly acting like an anti-abortion governor. That day he vetoed a state bill funding embryonic stem cell research because it allowed the cloning of human embryos.”

Tom Edsall, Huffington Post: “[A] last-ditch bid to revive a candidate whose poll numbers and financial resources are dwindling. … If the tactic fails, the McCain campaign may be effectively over.”

Rich Lowry, National Review: “Another sign of McCain’s extraordinary descent so far in this race is that he has been reduced to frontally attacking Romney in June!”

Mickey Kaus, Slate: “The Hail Mitt Play? I don’t quite understand why John McCain is picking a fight with Mitt Romney, given that there are two other GOP contenders who poll better than Romney nationally. Won’t this tactic do for McCain what attacking Howard Dean did for Dick Gephardt?”

Rob Bluey, The Bluey Blog: “McCain’s unprovoked attack on Mitt Romney today … may score political points among the Romney haters, the attack revealed what kind of a campaign McCain intends to run: one that’s full of negativity.”

Carl Cameron, Fox News Channel: “[Romney] lead the polls in the key early states of Iowa and New Hampshire and today got attacked by the McCain campaign on abortion. It came in the form of a statement bashing Romney for claiming to have become pro-life in 2004, but included a video link in which he insisted in 2005 that he would keep abortion legal”. … CAMERON: “In that news conference, both before and after that particular quote, Romney forcefully defended his pro-life conversion. His aides blasted the McCain camp for a, quote, sad and unfortunate move, clearly born out of desperation. McCain may be in the GOP top tier’s deepest rut. First quarter fund raising was so bad, staffers were fired. But now the new folks warn not to expect much improvement, because among other things, McCain’s immigration view has turned off so many Republicans. Once the presumptive establishment favorite, he has fallen to third and in some polls fourth.”

Sam Youngman, The Hill: “The more aggressive assault on rivals came shortly after a close friend and supporter of McCain told The Hill that the campaign is ‘in the doldrums.’”

Race42008: “McCain: A Cornered Cat. McCain it appears has come to the realization that his camp is a sinking ship. With this pretty amazing attacking press release paid for by his campaign and the following YouTube, McCain does the impossible: Bring his Campaigning and his Opposition Research to a new all-time low.”

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