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McCain presses Ayers attack with new ad

By Emily Ngo

emily.ngo@am-ny.com

John McCain further pushed his presidential rival’s connection to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers on Thursday, launching an Internet ad that questions Barack Obama’s candor on the matter.

“When their relationship became an issue, Obama responded, ‘This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood,’ ” the ad’s narrator says, asking: “That’s it?”

The 100-second clip supplemented accusations made by Sarah Palin last week that Obama was “palling around” with Ayers, a 63-year-old Vietnam War protester who bombed the Pentagon and the Capitol in the 1970s.

“We need to know the full extent of the relationship," McCain said on Thursday while stumping in Waukesha, Wis.

Some political consultants were quick to point out the irrelevancy of the Obama-Ayers relationship.

“I don’t think voters care about someone who Barack Obama barely knows and who did these things when Barack Obama was 8 years old,” said Kevin Wardally, a strategist at Bill Lynch Associates. “The McCain campaign fundamentally believes the only way they can win this election is if they cast doubt on who Barack Obama is.”Howard Wolfson, former communications director for Hillary Clinton, echoed Wardally’s sentiments in a New Republic column this past week.

“Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this,” Wolfson wrote. “This is a big election about big issues. McCain’s smallball will not work.”

Obama himself has admitted to being acquainted with Ayers, who hosted a 1995 event for Obama when the Illinois senator’s career was first launched. Others in the political realm argued the relationship is fair game when it comes to dissecting the nation’s potential president.

“Now that Obama is comfortably ahead in the polls, attention will understandably shift to him. We will want to know what kind of president he would make,” Dick Morris, a former aide to Trent Lott, wrote Wednesday on The Hill. “The fact that, within the past 10 years, he participated in a radical program of political education conceptualized by an admitted radical terrorist offers no reassurance.”

Quinnipiac University pollster Mickey Carroll notes voters may take some notice of McCain’s newest attack ad, but advises them to disregard it.

“This kind of crap, people do pay attention to. People aught to grow up,” Carroll said. “This negative personal campaigning is always done by the zealots who believe that you’ve got to defeat fill-in-the-blank who’s evil incarnate. And that’s baloney.”

Skeletons in their closet

Barack Obama isn’t the only candidate in this election whose history is in question. Here are others:

John McCain

The Arizona senator was one of the Keating Five — politicians accused of corruption and the improper handling of the Lincoln Savings and Loan collapse of 1989. Financier Charles Keating, said to have given the five more than $1 million in favors and political contributions, was criminally charged the next year.

Sarah Palin

The Alaska governor is under investigation for allegedly abusing her power in the July dismissal of the state’s public safety commissioner, in a scandal dubbed Troopergate. Republican lawmakers this week appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court to halt the probe until after the Nov. 4 election.

Joe Biden

The Delaware senator allegedly plagiarized a speech in 1987 by former British politician Neil Kinnock during Biden’s first presidential campaign. He was also accused of plagiarism during his time at Syracuse University Law School.

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