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Posted by on Oct 11, 2008 in Politics | 3 comments

Will McCain-Palin Follow Up Ayers With Wright?

I mentioned the other day that, for McCain-Palin, it has now all come down to Ayers — but that, with desperation deepening, it could be Wright again before too long.

As the WSJ reported yesterday, however, despite all the negativity coming out of the McCain-Palin campaign, the Wright card may not be played after all:

Top McCain campaign officials are grappling with how far to go with negative attacks on Sen. Barack Obama in the final weeks of what is turning into a come-from-behind effort.

Sen. John McCain has allowed a series of increasingly harsh broadsides in new campaign ads and in speeches by his wife, Cindy, and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. But the Arizona Republican has rejected pleas from some advisers to launch attacks focusing on Sen. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


But Sen. McCain vetoed proposals to attack the Illinois senator for his 20 years as a member of the church led by Rev. Wright, whose harsh comments about racism in America and other issues created problems for Sen. Obama during the Democratic primary contest. Sen. Obama publicly severed ties with Rev. Wright earlier this year.

Sen. McCain has said Rev. Wright is off limits.

That decision, and the worry that the campaign could open itself to accusations of racism, has kept Rev. Wright out of their strategy.

One McCain senior adviser said the difference between Mr. Ayers and Rev. Wright isn’t race, it’s religion. “It’s not appropriate to attack someone’s faith,” he said.

Of course, some Republicans — and no doubt some inside the McCain campaign — are pushing for the smearfest to be expanded to Wright. (The mobs at the rallies certainly are.)

Lest one be tempted to praise McCain for his decision not to go there, however, Noam Scheiber delves deeper into what might actually be motivating the campaign: “I’d say it also has to do with Sarah Palin’s dubious religious associations.” Needless to say, if Wright is fair game, then so are the Wasilla Assembly of God, the Wasilla Bible Church, Thomas Muthee, and Palin’s Pentecostalism generally. (Noam links to this interesting piece at Time, on Palin’s possible Pentecostal problem, by his wife Amy Sullivan.)

Obviously, McCain doesn’t want to go there, either.

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  • JSpencer

    By now the Wright bizz has been raked over the coals pretty well, dissected, blown up, explained, put into context, etc. Those who continue to believe it’s a valid issue (a minority) will continue to think this; nearly everyone else (a majority) is either bored by it or understands why it doesn’t matter.

    Barring a new round of fear pandering (which might serve only to increase ugliness in certain crowds) I don’t expect to see any ads on the subject. Of course I could be wrong, and maybe they gamble Obama would reject the low road and not lob rocks at the glass house McCain/Palin inhabit.

    As for Ayers, I think that ship has pretty well sailed, which is to say the same cautions apply. Fact-checking has revealed there is little to make hay from:

    Frankly I think McCain has a better chance of edging up among “undecided” voters by getting the straighttalk express back on the tracks, forget about Obama, and spend the next weeks talking positively about his plans as president. A side benefit might involve salvaging some of his reputation.

  • elrod

    Quick answer: no.

    Reason: somebody at a McCain rally will yellow racial epithets and it will get caught on camera. The Ku Klux Klan could literally show up at a McCain rally.

    If they invoke Wright, they lose control of it.

  • DLS

    Too little, too late. “Credit” the McCain campaign for ineptitude again if they do it now.

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