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“He finally talked about his opponent receiving more money than anyone in the Senate from Freddie and Fannie, but he still didn’t tie it all together,” Mr. Norman said. “Most people don’t understand what is going on or why and he could explain it very simply by connecting the dots for them but he has not done that.”

Conservatives find it hard to track just where McCain campaign strategists are trying to take him.

“Every time they turn around, they have a different strategy in the McCain campaign,” said Mike Karem, Reagan administration former deputy assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “The base has come to conclude this is not the party of Ronald Reagan anymore and the McCain campaign doesn’t represent the ideas and goals of Ronald Reagan.”