Politico: McCain, advisers divided over Wright attack

Politico

McCain, advisers divided over Wright attack

John McCain is at odds with many of his top advisers over launching a renewed attack on Barack Obama’s ties to his long-time pastor and mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, according to campaign sources. 

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and several top campaign officials see a sharp attack on Wright as the best — and perhaps last — chance to rattle Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill. ) and force voters to rethink their support of him. But McCain continues to overrule them, fearing a Wright attack would smack of desperation and racism, the officials said. 

With McCain unlikely to budge, GOP officials are hoping groups outside of the campaign will finance an ad attack on Obama-Wright ties. It is unclear if any conservative group has the cash to bankroll a serious effort, however. 

“Wright is off the table,” said one top campaign official. “It’s all McCain. He won’t go there. His advisers would have gone there.” 

The McCain campaign’s decision to cordon off the use of Wright from ads and debates has provoked simmering consternation among many leading Republicans and conservatives, who believe the pastor’s fulminations might be the single most effective weapon McCain has left against Obama. 

“McCain felt it would be sensed as racially insensitive,” the official said. “But more important is that McCain thinks that the bringing of racial religious preaching in black churches into the campaign would potentially have grave consequences for civil society in the United States.” 

Asked about the issue during the firestorm over it last March, McCain told Sean Hannity on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes”: “I think that when people support you, it doesn’t mean that you support everything you say. Obviously, those words and those statements are statements that none of us would associate ourselves with. And I don’t believe that Sen. Obama would support any of those. … I do know Sen. Obama. He does not share those views.” 

Conservatives who want McCain to focus on Wright contend that the omission is another sign of a campaign that is unwilling to play tough enough with the Obama juggernaut. 

As the top Republican official said: “There is a future beyond this election.”

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