With the William Ayers line of attack turning out to be toxic for the McCain campaign, it looks like the Republicans have found a new battle cry — ACORN.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, now clearly the campaign’s chief attack dog, has stopped publicly questioning Sen. Barack Obama’s association with the former Weatherman and is now spotlighting his connection to the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now.
The organization, which combats poverty and registers low-income voters (who overwhelmingly tend to vote Democratic), has long been the bane of Republicans.
TWI’s Aaron Wiener gives a rundown of the group here, and Daphne Eviator discusses the controversy here.
With McCain falling further and further behind in the polls, the right-wing noise machine has adopted ACORN’s alleged voter fraud as a cause célèbre.
In his days as a community organizer, Obama worked with ACORN. According to The Washington Post, his campaign made an $800,000 payment to an affiliate of the organization for “get out the vote” operations during the primaries. ACORN has endorsed Obama for president. Palin took to the airwaves today to step up the McCain campaign’s attacks linking Obama and ACORN. From Politico:
“Obama has a responsibility to rein in ACORN,” Palin said during an interview with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Palin said the group is responsible for the “unconscionable situation we are facing now with voter fraud” and attacked the Obama campaign for not addressing the problem after the McCain campaign sent a letter to the Democratic camp urging action against voter fraud in September.
Regardless of the virtual absence of any evidence of a concerted effort by ACORN to “steal” the November election, the group will likely be a fixture in the McCain campaign’s talking points between now and Election Day.
Unlike the Ayers attacks, there is very little, if any, political risk in turning off moderate voters by knocking ACORN. After the Florida debacle during the 2000 presidential election, electoral integrity is far more relevant to many voters than the decades-old activities of a “washed-up radical,” as McCain likes to say.
The big question is whether voters are really concerned about the link between Obama and ACORN — which, as was the case with Ayers, is competing in the minds of voters with such pocketbook issues as foreclosure and retirement.
While it provides a nice distraction from the nation’s economic woes that have been hammering McCain’s poll numbers recently, there’s no reason to believe that moderate, middle-class Americans are going to make their presidential decision based on the activities of a group of community organizers.