Politics & Government

Race roils campaign again as McCain suspends aide over Obama video

WASHINGTON — The campaign of Sen. John McCain suspended an aide Thursday for distributing a YouTube video linking Sen. Barack Obama with his longtime pastor, whose history of intemperate remarks has roiled the presidential campaign in recent days.

The aide, Soren Dayton, used a personal account on Twitter.com to send a link to the two-and-a-half-minute video. The video intersperses Obama speeches and interviews with selected inflammatory snippets of sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. McCain has said publicly that he wants to run a civil campaign.

Dayton worked in the campaign's political shop. He previously worked as an aide to Rep. Nick Smith, R-Mich., and is a 1999 graduate of the University of Chicago, according to his profile on LinkedIn.com, an online networking site.

"We have been very clear on the type of campaign we intend to run, and this staffer acted in violation of our policy," said Jill Hazelbaker, a McCain spokeswoman. "He has been reprimanded by campaign leadership and suspended from the campaign."

Dayton is unlikely to rejoin the McCain campaign in the same role, aides said.

Obama has cited Wright, who recently retired as minister of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, as an inspirational figure. Obama has attended his church for nearly 20 years. But Wright also subscribes to a theology of black liberation that has led him to make remarks that could hurt Obama politically, such as saying that the U.S. bears some responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks and speaking of the "U.S. of KKK-A."

The sensitive matter of race in America was on display elsewhere in the presidential campaign Thursday when an Obama surrogate appeared to dismiss as "victims" previous black leaders in history.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who's appeared in a national television ad for the Illinois senator, was quoted by The Kansas City Star as saying of Obama: "He, for the first time, I think, as a black leader in America, has come to the American people not as a victim, but rather as a leader."

McCaskill spokeswoman Adrianne Marsh said McCaskill misspoke and "is sorry it came out wrong. In her enthusiasm to applaud Barack Obama, it appeared that she was trying to diminish other black leaders. That was not her intention."

"Obama has said repeatedly he has deep and abiding respect for the many leaders who came before him and upon whose shoulders he stands," said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

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