The McCain/Palin ticket is still trying to paint Barack Obama as dangerous, as the ‘other’, who is so frightening and unpredictable that he can’t be elected America’s first black president.
At a 6,000-strong rally in Pennsylvania this week, as the two candidates on the Republican ticket waited backstage, a senior party member asked the crowd how they would feel about having a president with the middle name Hussein.
“Think about how you’ll feel on 5 November if you wake up and see the news, that Barack Obama – that’s Barack Hussein Obama – is the president-elect of the United States,” said Bill Platt, the Lehigh County Republican chairman. The crowed booed, jeered and hissed at the very thought. Then another speaker, Peg Ferraro, denounced the Democratic candidate’s “background and affiliations”, saying they were “questionable” and asking: “Do we know who his friends are?”
The remarks were later condemned by the McCain campaign as “inappropriate rhetoric, which distracts from the real questions of judgement, character, and experience”.
It’s another example of McCain’s behaviour after the bailout deal. In one sentence he attacks Obama on a flagrantly (and mendacious) partisan basis, then segues into a denunciation of partisan attacks. But he’s continued this pattern of behaviour as recently as yesterday:
Loud cheers from 4,000 people gathered at a sports complex near Milwaukee greeted McCain’s attacks over Ayers, who helped found the Weather Underground, a Vietnam protest group that bombed government buildings 40 years ago. Obama has noted that he was a child at the time and first met Ayers and his wife, ex-radical Bernadine Dohrn, a quarter-century later.
“Look, we don’t care about an old, washed-up terrorist and his wife,” McCain said. “That’s not the point here.”
“He’s a terrorist!” a man in the audience screamed without making clear to whom he was referring.
“We need to know the full extent of the relationship,” McCain replied. Later, McCain told ABC News: “It’s a factor about Sen. Obama’s candor and truthfulness with the American people.”
Obama has denounced Ayers and his violent actions and views. He dismisses McCain’s criticism as an effort to “score cheap political points.”
But it also appears as though, if seeing the probable outcome of this strategy as an Obama victory on November 4th, there are some jitters running through the GOP:
Some McCain campaign officials are becoming concerned about the hostility that attacks against Sen. Obama are whipping up among Republican supporters. During an internal conference call Thursday, campaign officials discussed how the tenor of the crowds has turned on the media and on Sen. Obama.
Someone yelled “Off with his head” at a rally Wednesday for Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin in Pennsylvania. Later that day in Ohio, a man stood outside a rally holding a sign that said “Obama, Osama.” At a rally in Jacksonville, Fla., on Tuesday, someone in the crowd wore a T-shirt depicting Sen. Obama wearing a devil mask.