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. Go Gettim Obama

    Obama will be ready for this. I hope Obama brings up the Keating Five on McCain, and the Abuse of Power by Palin.

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Mac is Back

    This is to Transparency please:

    Yes we have seen their tax returns, however while you are at it.... let's talk about full disclosure; in the form of health records.

    McCain released a TON of stuff and proved he is healthy.

    Obama a lifelong smoker in a family on both sides with cancer; he released a 1 page statement from his doctor and no records. Did anyone call him on it? NOPE.

    With so many issues, McCain is upfront and Obama hides.

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Don of Wisconsin

    Ayers? There is fertile ground for far worse in Obama's background. Unfortunately, the liberal media is far too much in blind love to cover any of that.

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Sammy

    Perhaps it's more to do with Obama telling the kind of truth that McCain wants to hear.

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Doug

    If McCain wants to bring up Ayers – great, bring it up and discuss. No distortions, no exaggerations. Just the facts of what happened and when.

    Then – let's have the candidates discuss Keating and McCain's involvement with him. Again – just the facts.

    That's all we ask.

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. RW

    Typical republican move, your losing your butt so ya go negative.
    Both McCain and Palin are , it starts with "L" Liers and Losers.

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Bill

    Go for it, John. Stick your big foot in your mouth again at the next debate for the whole world to see. Nobody cares about Ayers.

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Tim

    So Obama challenged McCain to bring it up, so now McCain is going to bring it up.

    Wow that proves that Obama is a LEADER, and McCain is a FOLLOWER!

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Steve - Minneapolis

    Glad to see McCain is still going to use the Ayers smear. It makes him appear less presidential and Barack is more than ready to deal with it I'm sure.

    I also noticed that McCain is now endorsing (or copying) some of Barack's economic policy. I hope he doesn't try to claim these as his own ideas.

    In 09 it would be good to see the post campaign McCain in the Senate working with Barack. They may make a good team in 09.

    Obama 08

    October 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Ruthie Bushnell

    Who wants mean spirited people running our country .

    October 14, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. ark

    God forbid a McCain president, then he would have been the most named american president ever. even the kids around the corner calls him fool, scum, liar, lame, cheat, unpatrotic, adultrer, mean etc

    October 14, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. independent

    I don't care about Ayers...its the economy, stupid.

    October 14, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. mk

    We ALL KNOW THE TRUTH FROM OBAMA ABOUT AYERS.
    Why does McCain insist that we don't. I will never let Mr Erractic 2008
    tell me what HE THINKS I DON'T KNOW. He can save that for Palin.

    October 14, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Democratic in Red State

    Pack it in John, time to retire.

    EVERYONE, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE...DON'T SIT BY AND BLOW THIS THING. MAKE SURE YOU ARE VOTING EARLY IF YOU CAN AND MAKE SURE YOU SHOW UP AT THE POLLS ON NOV 4th.

    We don't need this old baggage and his bear skin carpet taking office!!

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Boris and Natasha

    His ‘Straight Talk’ motto seems to have no principlies anymore.
    The McCain campaign is embarrasingly unethical and dishonest. To think a man who at one time was ruined, hurt, and violated by the same tactics used on him. Rove and other campaign managers blasted McCains reputation and he has chosen to sell his soul.

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  16. s

    John, what are you going to say when Obama brings up your Keating 5 connection and the Senate Ethics Comm. saying you exercised "poor judgment", and also Palin's violation of an AK state ethics laws? Have a temper tantrum? Obama broke no laws; Palin did. How you gonna explain that?

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. Chuck

    WHO ARE YOU, McCAIN? WHERE DO YOU COME FROM?

    I CAN REMEMBER A JOHN McCAIN FROM EIGHT YEARS AGO WHO RAN AGAINST AN IMBECILE CALLED GEORGE BUSH. I VOTED FOR THIS JOHN McCAIN.

    IF THE CURRENT JOHN McCAIN IS ONE OF THE SAME, I CAN NO LONGER SUPPORT HIM IN HIS PRESIDENTIAL QUEST, LET ALONE, VOTE FOR HIM.

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. Myron

    In the words of a soon-to-be (thankfully) ex-president: "Bring it on."

    Who among us thinks that Obama does not have just the perfect comeback for such a ridiculous attack?

    I thought McCain was the one who said, re: Pakistan, that you don't tell your opponent you're going to attack him?

    Hmm.

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Bruce

    Remember Keating 5 and Palin and the AIP

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. Mike in Columbus

    I'd bet anyone, dimes to dollars, he won't bring it up. He can only talk tough in his rallies. He knows Obama will be ready to slam him at the first mention of Ayers. It would turn into such a train wreck for McCain, it would be all over the press the next day.

    Please, please come with the paper thin Ayers BS johnny!

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    McCain so badly wants to bring up Wright but he promised he wouldn't go there.

    (Of course there is always Palin to bring it up.)

    McCain is a slimeball. He has lost my respect.

    LOSER!

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. S. Boatman

    I Dont Care If Obama Got The Guy A Present For His Birthday! He Is Still Getting My Vote!

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. Scott

    Umm..at this point no one has actually answered or explained Obama's relationship with Ayers. All responses seem to be "well what about YOU McCain?"...

    Do you think Obama can do that during the debate? He'll have to answer the question and explain the relationship. As an independent voter, I'd like to hear the answer to that question, as well as McCain and his answers regarding questionable relationships..because they DO matter.

    October 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Unshrub

    McCain's new campaign slogan: "A day late and a dollar short."

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. C Brown

    Anyone with broadband can see this connection is pretty weak. Yes, he worked with him in the past, but it was for a good cause. At least we know where he stands on educational issues.

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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