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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Obama Camp Pushes Ayers ‘Face’-Off

For a random person with no role in the presidential election, William Ayers has drawn plenty of political attention lately. We try to focus on real issues

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Oct 10, 2008

For a random person with no role in the presidential election, William Ayers has drawn plenty of political attention lately. We try to focus on real issues here at The Washington Independent, but this site has still plunked down a few paragraphs on Ayers, and one from Matthew DeLong actually anticipated the Obama campaign’s current counterpunch.

On Wednesday, at 1:35pm, DeLong noted the contrast between Sen. John McCain shrinking from mentioning Ayers in the debate — even as his campaign “spent several days making an issue of Obama’s ties to the former Weatherman.” So DeLong issued a basic challenge: “If McCain believes Ayers is a worthy campaign issue, he should probably be willing to raise it to Obama’s face.”

By Wednesday night, of course, Sen. Barack Obama shared the same thought.

"Say it to his face"
“We’ve been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days,” Obama told ABC, stressing that during the debate, McCain “wasn’t willing to say it to my face.”

By Thursday afternoon, this face-off dare was the Obama campaign’s message priority.

“[McCain] could not bring himself to look Barack Obama in the eye and say the same things to him,” said Sen. Joe Biden. “In my neighborhood, when you’ve got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him,” he added. Last night, an article about that attack topped all the political stories online, according to Memorandum.

This pushback is adept because it avoids any defensiveness. Instead, it is emphasizing that there is something wrong with McCain’s behavior. By leaning into the potential debate attack, the Obama camp is trying to steal any thunder from a last-ditch offensive. If McCain doesn’t raise it next week, Democrats can argue that he copped out — that even McCain doesn’t think Ayers is a big deal.

If McCain does play the Ayers card at the final debate, the Obama camp can argue that McCain only acted under pressure — erratically switching his strategy under pressure from Obama.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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