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. Paying Attention

    Issues matter and lies do not.

    McCain is grasping at straws.

    I do not want to pay taxes on my Healthcare insurance.

    Bad Idea = McCain

    October 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Dana Knight

    Truthful?? McCain wouldn't know the truth if it slapped him in the face. Don't even get me started on Palin...these two are a laughing joke.

    October 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Republican Supporters in the Dark

    Good. Sen. McCain, bring up Ayers. So that Sen. Obama can expose you. Leonore Annenberg is a McCain donor and supporter who hired William Ayers to sit on her board for the Annenberg Foundation in Chicago to help establish an education program for grant-funding. A board, I might add, on which sat also republican conservatives So go ahead and put the final nail in your coffin, since you and Gov. Palin have already dug your own political graves.

    October 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Jill

    This debate is gonna be funny. Good stuff for Comedy Central or SNL. Get your popcorn ready !
    McCain is going down again.

    October 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Carolyn in Memphis Tennessee

    An empty wagon makes a lot of noise.

    October 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Anthony

    What happened to 'Country First' ?

    This is "personal attacks first"

    October 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. robert pulciani

    McCain's campaign has had no clear direction similar to McCain wandering around during the last debate – aimlessly. Senator McCain do not take your comments to the gutter as has been the case to-date – you are losing the respect of so many Americans. Lose with dignity – have Palin return to alaska and close the door on your presidency with pride.

    October 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Spencer/Commonwealth of Virginia

    Why doesn't McCain bring up the point that Ayers backed Republican hero Ronald Reagan?

    October 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. David Peter

    McCain, its over.

    October 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. SHAWN/KNOXVILLE

    Anything to distract our (voters/media) attention to the issues (economy/healthcare/energy dependence/environment/Iraq/foreign policy/social security/taxes/fiscal responsiblity/etc./etc.)...thanks Maverick!

    October 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. California Gold

    The defining topics of this election are (1) the economy, (2) housing crisis, (4) health care, (5) unemployment, and (6) 2 unpopular wars. McCain feels it's germane to talk about William Ayers. An irrelevant third party who has nothing to do with any issues.

    No wonder he is dropping in the polls and elected Republican party members are avoiding him like the plague.

    October 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Go ahead, so we can clear this up once and for under the undivided national and international attention!

    October 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. kaya.independent.

    that's great. i hope he does bring it up on his own because i think it will backfire.

    October 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Jeff from Jersey

    Oh and he doesn't want to "live in the past" as he said a dozen times in the last debate?I thought he was far enough in the past when he was talking about Regan and Tip O'Neal in the 80's.Now he wants to go all the way back to the 60's before Obama was even born.McCain is either very confused or he's seeing his whole life flashing before his eyes.

    October 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Pandora's box may contain more than the mavericks can get a rope around.

    ha ha ha ha ha

    October 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Junius

    HA HA way to give you opponent time to prepare any and all counter attack points.

    Another brilliant tactical move by an able and competent military mind that brought us bom bom bom Iran.

    October 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. PA Independent

    I don't know whether to hope McCain is that dense or not. On one hand, I feel sorry for the guy. He's getting some very, very, VERY bad advice and is obviously not in any kind of control of his own campaign. On the other hand, he's seemed to relish the low road so far so maybe he really does deserve it. I just hate to see McCain reduced to this level, he was once what he claims he is.

    October 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Winnie Hussein . . . in Montana

    This man is so dishonorable. I don't even ask where the McCain of 2000 went because that person was obviously not the real John McCain. Read about his life, using his own words and the recollections of the people who were there in Rolling Stone's article this month. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the real McCain.

    October 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Dave

    Obama will take McCain apart. Finally, the world will see their hero is anything but honorable.

    October 14, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. tracy

    No news here. Kinda used to it now!!

    October 14, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Texas Straight Talker

    Barack needs to stay focused on the issues and not be side-tracked by anything the McCain campaign will throw up in this last stretch of the election. Supporters of Barack also need to focus and vote. We have a lot of work to do and allowing any distraction at this point is not an option.

    October 14, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. The Messenger

    Great!

    Now I can't wait to watch Obama bury you with it.

    October 14, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. Gretchen

    McCain just doesn't get it does he....

    October 14, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Irma in North Carolina

    John you and Sarah are running some of the most hatefull rallys out there, when you do this Obama goes up in the polls. Why are you too so thick to not be able to undersands this. And Sarah with her abuse of power is another thing against you. Just keep up your hateful tactics and see Obama go up some more.

    October 14, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Brian

    Keating five ring a bell?

    Obama Biden 08

    October 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10