Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson tonight, where he directly addressed the recent attacks by Sarah Palin that accused him of palling around with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers.
When asked about Ayers, Obama said, “Why don’t we just clear it up right now. I’ll repeat again what I’ve said many times. This is a guy who engaged in some despicable acts 40 years ago when I was eight years old. By the time I met him, 10 or 15 years ago, he was a college professor of education at the University of Illinois. And we served on a school reform board together, by the way, that was funded by Walter Annenberg, who had been an ambassador and close friend of Ronald Reagan. And so I have talked to him about school reform issues.”
Obama said that that these attacks make no sense in the middle of an economic crisis, “And the notion that somehow he has been involved in my campaign, that he is an adviser of mine, that he — I’ve palled around with a terrorist, all these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points. And, you know, the idea that the McCain campaign would want to make this the centerpiece of the discussion in the closing weeks of a campaign where we are facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we’re in the middle of two wars, I think makes very little sense not just to me but to the American people.”
He made it clear that McCain/Palin can talk about whatever they want, but he is going to talk about the economy, “And if, you know, look, I can handle these attacks for the remaining four weeks, but it’s certainly not serving our democracy right now. We need to be having a debate about how we’re going to yank ourselves out of a very difficult situation. And that’s what I’m going to spend my time talking about.”
Evidence of how poorly these attacks are playing is found in the fact that this interview was dominated by the economy. The Ayers question was the last one of the interview. If the mission of these character attacks is at least in part to distract from the economy, then they are failing miserably. In the context of what is going on in the world around us, bringing up Bill Ayers now, makes no sense.
People want to hear about the economy, and the McCain campaign is talking about character. There is a fundamental disconnect between what voters want to hear , and what the Republican campaign is talking about. On the economy, this interview was a repeat of many of the same points that Obama has been making during the presidential debates. One of the most basic rules of campaigning is that the candidate who is most in tune with the mood of the electorate wins the election.
Obama beat Hillary Clinton because understood the political landscape better she did, and he is beating John McCain, because McCain refuses to talk about the issues that really matter to voters. McCain’s behavior is like a waiter who brings you what he wants to serve instead of what you ordered. No matter how good the food is that is brought to the table, if it isn’t what you want to eat, you’ll send it back. In political terms, John McCain is on the verge of being sent back, because he has no interest in filling our order.