Campaign takes negative turn as candidates seek edge

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 6, 2008 

Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign has launched a more negative assault on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on the stump and in ads, trying to pump up his ties to a 1960s radical and a convicted former donor to raise questions about his character.

In turn, Obama's campaign is resurrecting McCain's ties to the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s. The campaign is launching a 13-minute documentary called "Keating Economics: John McCain and the Making of a Financial Crisis" that emphasizes McCain's longtime support for deregulation.

McCain was cleared of any wrongdoing but Senate investigators questioned his judgment. "The point of the film and the Web site is that John McCain still hasn't learned his lesson," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in an e-mail to supporters announcing the documentary.

Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate, meanwhile showed the new McCain strategy in a speech Monday in Clearwater, Fla. She took Obama to task for his association with William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, a 1960s and 1970s radical leftist group that bombed government buildings. Ayers is a university professor in Chicago who once served on a charity board with Obama and contributed $200 to his state Senate campaign. Obama has condemned the Weathermen's violent activities.

"Barack Obama said Ayers was just someone in the neighborhood," Palin told a Clearwater rally. "But that's less than truthful. His own top advisor said they were, quote, "certainly friendly. In fact, Obama, held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers home. And they've worked together on various projects in Chicago."

In a weekend speech, Palin accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists," a reference to Ayers.

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