October 14th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
6 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. UCLAdy04

    Good...he will give Obama the perfect opening to shut down the smear once and for all and to point out that during the week where the market hit a record low dropping over 500 points on consecutive days, McCain was silent (his adviser even went so far as to say that it wasn't necessary for the campaign to put out statements on the economic news). Obama put out statements about the economy and addressed the problems this country faced. What did McCain do? He spewed hateful rhetoric and incited violent and disgusting words from his crowds. NO help for American families just more division. So go on ahead McCain, bring up Ayers at your own peril!

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Chris K

    McCain continues to grasp at straws and show that he is clueless when it comes to addressing the issues that really matter to the voters of this country. Obama has already addressed what his relationship was with Ayers, and the news media has investigated it quite thoroughly. McCain is clearly desperate since he continues to slide in the polls. If he continues dwelling on these non-issues then Obama will win in a landslide!

    October 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Rusty

    Where is the coverage of Gov. Palin claiming that Friday's report says she did nothing illegal or unethical? Why is this lie about what she did and what she said getting so little attention while who Obama "pals around" with is getting attention? She flat out lied about the report and you report it as some difference in interpretation. While McCain and Palin claim that Obama is not telling us everything even though he has. Their Rove-style attacks are working because you are reporting the lies without pointing out that they are lies.

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. Jen B

    Ayers on the debate agenda. And how about Keating and Palin's preacher, you know the witch hunter guy........
    Or, perhaps most voters with an ounce of intelligence would prefer to hear McCain try enlighten us on how he would tackle the economic crisis the country is facing. So far he has skirted the issues.

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Republican Woman for Obama, FL

    Wow, really? Bring it then! Then we can clear it all up! Maybe McCain can explain why his endorser thought Ayers was fine to put on her board.

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Dana

    I hope he do bring it up. Because Mccain/Palin/Bush is as unethnical as they come. And some stuff should have been criminal!! To the GOP, your smears and fears tactic will not work this election!!

    WE WILL HAVE CHANGE!!!

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Kristina, Seattle

    "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."

    Yeah so... bringing it up again (when it's only hurt you in the polls) is a BRILLIANT idea! What a joke of a campaign.

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Chris

    McCain remember your words about not telling your enemy your plans before you do them? I think you just did and Obama is going to nail you to the wall!!! LOL

    i swear McCain is laughable!! I don't even understand why he still have supporters!!!

    Remember HRC did the same thing.

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. BUDGET “REFORM TEAM”: MCKEATING5 BALANCED HIS CAMPAIGN BUDGET BY TAKING $112.000 FROM KEATING WHEN S&L‘S FAILED, MISS MOOSE ANAL SPHINCTER‘S “EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE” LEAVES WASILLA $23 MILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT!

    The RCP electoral map shows Obama at 313 and McCain dropping to 158 electoral votes, RCP is now showing FL and CO as leaning for Obama.

    Again do not get cocky, but just savor these facts while we "elitist" have our morning latte's and scones in our ivory towers!

    Bring it on old man, the polls will only grow in Obama's favor, not many of us give a rip about Ayers, but if you want to spend your last shot talking about things no one cares about, go head!

    After all what do I know!

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. Kim

    McCain you clueless clown...GET OFF THE NATIONAL STAGE and crawl back to one of your many mansions. We, meaning my friends and family, and the majority of Americans are sick of you and your bent Republican party!

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. TAYO, NY

    Let it come out during the debate; You know what, McCain will end losing the debate base on that note.

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Peter (CA)

    All the investigations say he is being truthful, Sen. McCain.

    My concern is that YOU are unable to be truthful. You are so desperate after Bush stole the nomination from you in 2000 that you will do anything or say anything to win.

    Your judgment has come into question, Senator. Especially with your pick of an unqualified, unethical neophyte who would drive this country into ruin if something happened to you.

    October 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Rhonda J

    The reason he's not brought it up before now to his face is because McCain has far more too many ghosts in his closet and he doesn't want them brought out. Attacks are your game, economy not even an issue for you. you are dividing Americans instead of bringing them together. Hope you sleep good at night Mr. McCain!

    October 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Sarah Palin is Obama's best friend.

    McCain is the past while Obama is the future!!!!!!!!!
    McCain has alot of skeletons in his closet. Palin has more and more that keeps coming out daily. Palin does not love America.

    October 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Sue/PA

    Keating 5, Gordon Liddy and Phil Gram...................remember McCain ..when you point a finger at Barack there are 3 fingers pointing back at you!!!

    Lets see which one(s) resonate with voters

    my money is on Keating 5 and Phil Gram....its the economy stupid!!!!
    McCain, you are heavily tied to both Keating (till 1998,via Cindy) and Gram ( till 2008, ur econ advisor)

    October 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. tim

    McCain... how tired are you today? Did you stay up all night long trying to come up with an economic plan similar to what you have already said before? You probably decided that you had to make up something since you let everyone down yesterday with your fabled announcement.

    You know, you can put different wrapping on the same present.... its still the same gift.

    October 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Get out and vote!!

    Obama/Biden

    October 14, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Jeremy

    By doing so McCain will be falling into the trap set by Obama.

    Does McCain really think he can make some traction by coming off as more grumpy and stand-offish?

    McCain is running probably the worst campaign in history. He makes the Dukakis campaign seem competent.

    October 14, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Jude

    McCain-Palin are tha pathologic liars here...time and time again we've seen this and the American people are not blind to this. We see through your skin McCain...thats why you are losing and will go down on Nov. 4th.

    October 14, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Sandy

    When all else fails, just close your eyes and start swinging blindly, John.

    If that's all you've got, then go home, it's over.

    If you keep bringing up the "trustworthy" issue, then you haven't got a leg to stand on. Who are the first presidential and vice presidential candidates to both be reprimanded for eithics violations? Why, it's McCain/Palin. Buh, bye.

    October 14, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Mohsen Emami

    John McCain is a disgusting,lying and deceiptful man whe instead of addressing the disasterous economy in this country, he sticks with negative and malicious comments about Obama which is shameful. I am sure that it is going to hurt him even further with the American Independent voters.

    October 14, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. Ann

    Basing your entire presidential campaign on fear, loathing and distrust of someone that Obama knew, instead of real plans to help the average voter is going to go over like a lead balloon. How do I know? the proof is in the polls. I don't take much stock in one or two. however, when I see change in 15-20 polls in different states over a three week period, I start to believe in 'game changers'.

    Offer me plans that help me and my family, not suspicions.

    October 14, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Dandelion.

    Bring it on.

    October 14, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. New Mexico Republican voting for "real" CHANGE

    At this point, McCain HAS TO BRING IT UP. That's the only card he's got left. Obama is prepared. It's too late for McCain.

    October 14, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. carlo

    Ayers was never convicted. McCain hangs out with convicted felons like Keating Jr. and Liddy, yet we don't see Obama harping on those. McCain is going to look like a fool on Wednesday if he tries to attack with this. Has the situation in America gotten so bad that McCain is trying to lose on purpose? That's the only reasoning I can come up with that makes any sense.

    October 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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