See what I mean about why it’s usually smarter to defend a bad political decision than to try to pass the buck? Crist comes off as a guy who does what he thinks is right even if it’s unpopular. Maverick — who, ironically, is famous for being that same type of pol, especially vis-a-vis foreign policy — comes off as a panderer or easily suckered or both. J.D. Hayworth must be rubbing his hands with glee.

I don’t know what Palin has planned for when she’s stumping for him, but that speech had better be a barnburner.

In response to criticism from opponents seeking to defeat him in the Aug. 24 Republican primary, the four-term senator says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.

“Obviously, that didn’t happen,” McCain said in a meeting Thursday with The Republic’s Editorial Board, recounting his decision-making during the critical initial days of the fiscal crisis. “They decided to stabilize the Wall Street institutions, bail out (insurance giant) AIG, bail out Chrysler, bail out General Motors. . . . What they figured was that if they stabilized Wall Street – I guess it was trickle-down economics – that therefore Main Street would be fine.”…

But McCain stopped short of calling the TARP a mistake.

“Something had to be done because the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse,” he said. “Any economist, liberal or conservative, would agree with that. The action they took, I don’t agree with.”

This pitch is right in her wheelhouse, so the boss emeritus swings away. Question from Michelle to McCain: Who’s “they”?

[T]o this day, McCain refuses to admit his own individual responsibility for supporting the pre-socialization of the economy started under George W. Bush and continued under Obama. And fellow Republicans continue to whitewash McCain’s fiscal irresponsibility record.

McCain has never admitted he was wrong about his support of:

*The $700 billion all-purpose, earmark-stuffed TARP bailout;

*The $25 billion auto bailout;

*The $300 billion mortgage entitlement bailout; and

*The first $85 billion AIG bailout.

Exit question: When push comes to shove, given his record, even Sarahcuda’s not going to be able to do much to sell him to grassroots conservatives, is she?