Responding to the Obama campaign’s attacks on Sen. John McCain’s inability to say how many homes he owns, McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers basically said "it’s on," according to The Washington Post:
"We’re delighted to have a real estate debate with Barack Obama," said spokesman Brian Rogers, adding that the press should focus on Obama’s house. "It’s a frickin’ mansion. He doesn’t tell people that. You have a mansion you bought in a shady deal with a convicted felon."
The felon reference was to Tony Rezko, a former Obama friend and financial backer who was convicted on fraud and bribery charges this year. Rogers vowed to intensify efforts to link Obama to Rezko in the coming days.
"That’s fair game now," he said. "You are going to see more of that now that this issue has been joined. You’ll see more of the Rezko matter from us."
Politico’s Jonathan Martin — who, along with his colleague Mike Allen, asked the now-infamous question that McCain couldn’t answer — reports the Republican National Committee has released a torrent of oppo research on the Obama-Rezko connection. Here’s a sample, from Politico:
Obama Paid $300,000 Less Than The Asking Price For His Mansion, While Tony Rezko’s Wife Paid Full Price For A Vacant Lot Next Door On The Very Same Day. "Two years ago, Obama bought a mansion on the South Side, in the Kenwood neighborhood, from a doctor. On the same day, [Antoin 'Tony'] Rezko’s wife, Rita Rezko, bought the vacant lot next door from the same seller. The doctor had listed the properties for sale together. He sold the house to Obama for $300,000 below the asking price. The doctor got his asking price on the lot from Rezko’s wife." (Tim Novak, "Obama And His Rezko Ties," Chicago Sun-Times, 4/23/07)
The Seller Of Obama’s Home "Wanted To Sell Both Properties At The Same Time." "On the same day Obama closed on his house, Rezko’s wife bought the adjacent empty lot, meeting the condition of the seller who wanted to sell both properties at the same time." (Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz, "The Rezko Connection," ABC News’ "The Blotter" Blog, abcnews.go.com, 1/10/08)
Rush Limbaugh is, predictably, getting in on the action as well, according to another of Martin’s Politico colleagues, Ben Smith:
This business about McCain not knowing how many houses he has. Folks, it turns out that Obama already knows. Obama’s got an ad: He’s got seven houses. They’re worth $13 million. That wouldn’t even pay for one of John Kerry’s houses.
And the second thing I have to point out to you is that I don’t care how many houses McCain has, he and his wife did not get a sweetheart deal from a fraud embezzler like Tony Rezko to buy their houses. But the Messiah did. The Messiah got all kind of sweetheart deals with Rezko, and who knows who else.
Last I checked, John Kerry isn’t running for president, but Rush was never one for sticking to the relevant issues. However, the Rezko thing is certainly not something Obama wants back in the headlines. It was always out there during the primaries, but never gained much traction nationally. Now that Obama has effectively secured the nomination — and his campaign chose to make an issue of McCain’s homes — it’s more likely that the national press will pick up on the story, considering the Republicans will undoubtedly continue to push it. As I wrote earlier, Obama may have picked a fight that will leave both candidates bloodied.
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