The rollout of the pick of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate demonstrates a very obvious difference between the two campaigns.  The contrast between the tight, focused operation at Team McCain and the botched announcement from Barack Obama could not be more dramatic, and it points to a competence gap between the two candidates.

Last week, Barack Obama promised an announcement of the most important decision of his campaign, but how did he do it?  He relied on a gimmick designed to capture phone and e-mail information from a wide number of interested parties, instead of working it in relation to maximum media impact.  He then delayed the announcement all week long, wasting days of earned media while needing it more than ever to boost his flagging poll numbers.  When did he finally make the announcement?  In the middle of the night, when most of the people who offered their personal information were asleep.

John McCain planned this with care and precision.  I predicted months ago that the Democratic convention schedule made this the most obvious day to make this announcement.  McCain took advantage of the opportunity to steal the thunder and media spotlight from Obama’s acceptance speech, and more importantly, his campaign made sure to tease it early in the morning to get the media humming.  When the announcement came — at around 11 am ET — it was in plenty of time to ensure the maximum media exposure for today.  McCain made sure he owned the next three media cycles.

Once again, McCain proved his experience and his competence.  Team Obama buried their most significant announcement of the season, and threw away one media cycle and had the media buzzing about their failure in the next two, which stepped all over Obama’s uninspired choice of Joe Biden for running mate.  McCain has shown that Obama has a lot to learn on many subjects, campaigning among them.