Politico: What if Wright played a bigger role?

Politico

What if Wright played a bigger role?

Castellanos, a Romney adman during the GOP primary, noted that McCain could have used Obama’s attendance at Trinity at the start of the general election campaign to reinforce his larger argument that Obama avoids taking hard stands in politics and beyond. 

“He sits in a church pew for 20 years because he wants to become part of that Chicago community,” noted Castellanos, sounding out the message. “He does not raise his voice. He goes along in silence. He votes present.” 

Howell said the most damning line of attack would have been to contrast Wright’s fiery sermons with Obama’s conciliatory speeches, raising questions about just what Obama believes. 

“The most credible ad you can make is one where the person’s own remarks indict them,” said Howell. “I would have as much real audio and video as possible to lend credibility to my argument.” 

Added Forti: “Tell the facts, and let the viewer draw the conclusion.” 

It’s a commercial that, after Wright’s sermons emerged this spring, seemed a no-brainer to many on the right. The belief, though unstated publicly, was that white voters would be frightened by clips of a controversial black pastor and the images would cloud Obama’s soothing, post-racial aura. 

Heading into Election Day, it appears from the final round of pre-election polls that the vast majority of the remaining undecided voters in battleground states are white. They are keeping Obama below the telltale 50 percent mark in many state polls and represent McCain’s last best hope to pull an upset. These fence-sitters may not ultimately support Obama — but they also may not be roused enough to even vote for either option. 

Could Wright have been enough to drive them en masse to McCain? 

Rick Wilson, a Republican media consultant, crafted the Wright ad currently being aired by the National Republican Trust. It is replete with some of the pastor’s most inflammatory statements and serves as a reminder of what could have been. While airing in some key states and on national cable, it didn’t go on the air until the final days of the campaign and has not stood out amid a flurry of other political commercials, nor gotten the sort of media attention as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004. 

“The dog is barking,” Wilson insists, ”but the story is that it took an outside group to step up and smack Obama in his smug mouth.” 

It may be too little, too late. 

Or, more significantly, in an election that turned more on economic issues than the character of the candidates to a degree not seen since 1992, this dog may not have been heard even if it had howled.

Asked Sunday night about McCain’s decision not to touch Wright, campaign manager Rick Davis acknowledged that many in the party’s grassroots would liked to have seen them use the pastor as an issue. 

“You’ll never find a single person out there who thinks that that was a good idea who is part of our coalition,” he said. 
As for what he thought of the decision to stay away from Wright, Davis said: “I love it. I think it’s exactly what John McCain is all about. I don’t need him to win.”

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