OPINION: Not since the days of Rob Muldoon, apparently, has the National Party seen a political rally anything like it - a 2500-strong crowd of placard-waving fans in Auckland, stumbling over themselves for the chance to touch and see Prime Minister John Key.
It was madness on a grand scale, and the sort of message the party was desperate to send after more than a week dominated by images of Key isolated on the campaign trail, under fire over allegations of dirty politics.
Camp Key were at pains ahead of yesterday's big housing announcement to stress that it had been in the pipeline for weeks and was not a rabbit pulled out of the hat as a circuit breaker.
Whatever the case, a circuit breaker is what National desperately needed to regain its momentum after being blindsided by Nicky Hager's book drawing on thousands of hacked emails.
The housing announcement ticks the boxes as both a hip-pocket measure and a promise that crosses the generational divide - it is not just young couples who worry about never being able to buy their own home, but their mums and dads and grandparents as well.
It is evocative, in other words, of Labour's interest-free student loan pledge in 2005 - a promise that didn't just move the polls, it may even have changed the outcome of that election.
Key's housing announcement probably won't hit the polls with the same resonance when it comes to polling day on September 20, but it did give him a platform from which to wash his hands of days of negative headlines.
- The Dominion Post
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