October 14th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Ayers will come up at debate, McCain says

 McCain plans to criticize Obama's ties to Ayers at Wednesday night's debate.

McCain plans to criticize Obama's ties to Ayers at Wednesday night's debate.

(CNN) - John McCain and Sarah Palin appear to have dropped the subject of Barack Obama's connection to 1960's radical Bill Ayers from the campaign trail, but the Arizona senator said in an interview that aired Tuesday he'll likely bring it up at the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night.

The comments, during an interview with St. Louis radio station KMOX, come after Obama and Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden were sharply critical of McCain for targeting the Illinois senator over Ayers at campaign rallies, but not when the two last met for a presidential debate.

"I was astonished to hear him say that he was surprised I 'didn’t have the guts' to do that, because the fact is the question didn't come up in that fashion," McCain said of the last debate. "I think he's probably ensured it will come up this time."

McCain and Palin stepped up their criticism of Obama's past relationship with Ayers last week, as the GOP ticket's poll numbers continued to slide in the homestretch to Election Day. The campaign also released a string of ads that questioned Obama's truthfulness on the matter, in an effort to raise doubts about the Illinois senator's political origins and character. But the subject of Ayers was noticeably absent from both McCain and Palin's stump speeches Sunday and Monday, leading many political observers to conclude the campaign had deemed that line of attack ineffective.

Watch: Palin Renews Obama Attack

In the radio interview, McCain made clear he still thinks it's an issue.

"It’s not that I give a damn about some old washed up terrorist and his terrorist wife, who in 2001 said they wish they'd bombed more - what I care about, and what the American people care about, is whether he's being truthful," McCain told the St. Louis radio station.

soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. N.S of Huntsville, Al

    McCain while your holding Obama to his past with Ayers, please enlighten us Americans about Todd Pailns past, since that is your VP's husband. And also your past with membership with a communist group who you participated with. Just lay out all the files on yourself and Obama, since you want the American people to get a clear understanding of who were voting for.

    Oh while your at it, talk about your VP Abuse of Power scandall, since that goes to her credibility, integrity and ability to keep personal bs out of the white house.

    Thank you McCain

    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. James

    Is McCain really this stupid or is he ill ?


    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Another O and Joe supporter

    And McShame and Clueless Caribou Barbie are just so "truthful"! OMG! Do they think the American people are so stupid?

    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Mikey from San Antonio

    Blah Blah Blah

    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Anne

    silly old nam McCain. It hasnt worked and it wont work because we dont care. The fact is MCCains economic plan is a case fo we will fix it we will do it. Fix what do what? He has yet to come up with figures and facts besides smear Obama and give vague generalities about what he plans to do should he get elected. Obama has ridden abive for the most part to any smears and he has a plan with facts and figures. I know who my vote goes to. Obama.

    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Great

    Obama has many skeletons in his closet!

    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Lisa


    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Tracy

    Does McCain think that Senator Obama is not prepared for the attacks. He will respond cool, calm, and collected as always. Stick to the issues.

    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Independent Voter

    Too bad McCain can't bring himself to lose gracefully – hardly the image of a man who "puts country first." It's a little pathetic.

    Someone ought to remind him that Bill Ayers, regardless of what mistakes he made as a young man, is now highly respected.

    Among other things, a recipient of the City of Chicago's Citizen of the Year Award.

    And highly respected for his work in education by professionals all over America.

    October 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Lone McCain Blogger

    Mr. Angry. I guess Ach-madenajad should just dare McCain to bomb him.
    Way to show your true demeaner old man.

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Nathan, GA

    I don't know why this is a big deal. Obama has defended his stance several times, and has even written books about his experience with Ayers. More desperation by McCain to make his base feel better. It won't help.

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. OregonSingleMama

    I hope he does

    Keating 5?


    AnitSemitic ties?

    Photo op w/ ACORN?

    Yeah Obama will bring all that up and more.


    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Dee

    Why is it the media has spent much time investigating and reporting on Obama's ties to Ayers yet they havent reported on McCain's ties to Gordon Liddy( reported by Carl Bernstein in yesterday's Huffington Post) or Cindy McCain's continued investments with Charles Keating for years following the Keating5 scandal???
    Hopefully, they will do so out of mere fairness!!

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Poor Old Man McCain...he has taken the bait.

    While McCain will try to spend a good 10 to 20% of the final debate ranting about Ayers, hopefully Obama will sharpen his economic message and keep repeating it and tie John McCain to GW Bush.

    There is a strong frustration and disapproval with Bush and his policies in which McCain supported 90% of the time between 200 to 2008. He can't escape the last 8 years with talk concerning events that happened 20 to 40 years ago!

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. Omaha for Obama

    Hmmm..I guess he's still focused on what's really imporatant. Let it go man.

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. LOL @ McCain.

    YES! PLEASE DO IT JOHN. I cannot wait to see the look on your face when Barack sorts you out in Primetime.

    Accept defeat and save what is left of your honor while you can.

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Politics are funny

    Yeah, lets not talk about things that are effecting me like the economy, my 401k, or the education system. That would be stupid...

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. freddie

    Well then I certainly hope Barack uses the opportunity to let the American people know about McCain's continuing friendship with G. Gordon Liddy! He's as terrorist as you can get! McCain loves him and there is plently of audio out there to prove it! Don't let them get away with it!!

    October 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. Justanaverageamerican

    Do we care about "an old washed up Senator from Arizona?" I don't think so...go ahead and mention Ayers at the debate...Obama is waiting for you!

    Let's waste some more valuable time on this worn out no matter subject. Let's not talk about how people are not sleeping at night, worried about food on the table and roofs over their heads.

    McBush needs to go to one of his seven homes and retire.

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Barnhardt in NC

    It's obvious John McCain has decided to commit political hari kari in front of a national TV audience. The fact that he's determined to show he has more than just one screw loose may jeapordize his standing as a Senator beyond his coming landslide loss in November.

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Amazing

    We are not interested McCaine.

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. Republican for Obama

    Factcheck.org has refuted this latest attack path McCain has taken. His campaign is showing the signs of desperation that the Clinton campaign did when they would throw out a new attack every week to see if anything would stick. They should have been taking notes, people are sick of this and want talk about issues. Besides there are only 3 weeks left so he's running out of time.

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Jan Burton

    This is an issue that panders to the "Obama's an A-rab" base of the Republican party but no one else cares.

    McCain brings this non-issue to the debate at his own peril.

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Army Vet in Charlotte

    Obama has explained... the media has investigated–nothing there.

    Can we talk about some real issues please?


    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Dana from NY

    He says it is in such a mocking way too- its so annoying "Its not like I care"... well you know what John... How about "Its not like I care that we sent our troops to Invade the country that didnt attack us and are spending 10 billion dollars a month, but I think its important the American people ask YOU why you made that judgment- why you thought that was a GREAT idea- and what it says to your judgment that you are unrepentant in that error?"
    "Its not like I care that you pal around with anti-semites or that your VP pals around with Anti American groups... but care to share with us your reasoning on how that shouldnt reflect bad judgment on you- but how Ayers reflects bad judgment on Obama"?

    Whatever McCain- you lost- let it go!

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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