TalkingPointsMemo: McCain Campaign’s Muddled, Self-Contradictory Message On Ayers


McCain Campaign’s Muddled, Self-Contradictory Message On Ayers


It would be nice if the McCain campaign explained precisely what it is they are objecting to about Obama’s relationship with William Ayers. Their message on Ayers is muddled, confused, and self-contradictory — all over the map.

Last night, a senior McCain adviser claimed that the campaign doesn’t care specifically about who Ayers is per se, arguing that McCain’s team is only concerned with Obama’s alleged dishonesty about his relationship with the former Weatherman.

Yet this morning, only 12 hours later, the McCain campaign blasted out a statement from one John Murtagh, who says he was nine years old when the Weathermen firebombed his house. In other words, half a day after saying Ayers himself isn’t the issue, the McCain team directly attacked Ayers, with a detailed recital of his crimes — an obvious effort to insinuate that Obama is in league with terrorists.

Last night’s statement claiming that the McCain team isn’t concerned with Ayers himself came from McCain adviser Nicole Wallace. “[N]obody in America sitting around the kitchen table trying to figure out if they’re gonna be able to make the mortgage or worried about the price of groceries or price of gas, nobody cares about Mr. Ayers,” Wallace told Fox News. “Neither do we…What we care about is that Barack Obama described him as a guy in his neighborhood.”

The reason for Wallace’s statement seems obvious: She’s claiming that the campaign is not trying to imply that Obama is in league with terrorists, as a way of deflecting the Obama camp’s counter-argument that the McCain team is indulging in dirty negative attacks as a way of distracting voters from a discussion about the economy.

Yet this morning, the McCain team’s statement from Murtagh said: “When I was 9 years-old the Weather Underground, the terrorist group founded by Barack Obama’s friend William Ayers, firebombed my house. Barack Obama has dismissed concerns about his relationship with Ayers by noting that he was only a child when Ayers was planting bombs at the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. But Ayers has never apologized for his crimes, he has reveled in them, expressing regret only for the fact that he didn’t do more.”

So which is it? Is the McCain team only concerned with Obama’s alleged dishonesty over Ayers, or are they attacking Ayers himself in order to make the slimy terrorist association at a time when voters want solutions to the economic crisis? They can’t seem to decide.



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