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. Helga, St. Louis, MO

    This is all McPalin machine has left to do. They aren't reformers, they won't change anything, and neither of them have a plan – except to continue to discredit Obama thinking that more people than not will believe their angry smears. It worked twice for Bush, but the democrats have a much better candidate this time around and a lot of American people have dropped the "herd" mentality and have been exercising independent thinking which doesn't work with the republican doctrine of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.... this time it has backfired. McPalin are the ones to fear, doubt and be uncertain about. They are no mavericks, republicans have used this smear strategy for years to get their candidates elected. But I encourage McPalin to keep talking, everytime they open their mouths they further reveal their ignorance.

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Maggie VT

    Maggie, VT

    Might want to ask him why the Republicans were also sitting at that table with Barack Obama and Ayers? Do you think those Republicans are "terroist"too.

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Amy

    Bring it on McCain! I'm sure Obama would love to set this issue straight (yet again!).

    You want to push aside the real issues we face, and instead focus on petty things that have happened ages ago. Well, McCain, you've made some serious mistakes in your past (Keating 5, infidelity) and your running mate (guilty of unethical behavior as governor). I cannot wait until Obama shoves your mistakes in your face, just like you are trying to do to him! Who's going to look like the hypocritical idiot? YOU ARE!

    Obama/ Biden 2008!!

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. Vahagn

    John McCain has lied no less than 100 times in this election cycle alone, what does he mean whether he is being truthful?

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Brian

    uh oh, as Palin/Bush would say, this must be the nucular approach...

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. arc, Lugano CH

    Senator McCain,

    How many innocent women and children did you kill in Vietnam?

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. President THAT ONE 2008

    Great...McCain will lose the independent vote. I am glad you are telegraphing your attacks McCain. You are the one who is green behind the ears. I am sure Obama will be prepared to make you look like a complete fool now.

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. AZ Dem for McCain

    What can McCain bring up??

    William Ayers, Rev Wright, Louise Farrakhan, ACORN, votering fraud, democrats and Obama's duplicity in fannie mae/freddie mac and the Wall Street melt down? That's just for starters.

    October 14, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. N O - M A S

    ACORN,,,,,,,,,,,VOTER,,,,,,,,,,,,,FRAUD,,,,,,,,,ACKNOWLEDGED,,,,,,,,,AND,,,,,,,,

    WIDESPREAD,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,FBI,,,,,,,,,,,,MUST,,,,,,,,,,,STEP,,,,,,,,,,IN

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Former Republican for OBAMA

    MCGREEDY WANTS TO GOAT & ANGER OBAMA.

    IT WILL NOT WORK & IT WILL NOT WORK.

    HE WANTS US TO SEE AN ANGRY OBAMA.

    BARACK THINKS WITH HIS MIND NOT HIS HATE &

    EGO. HE WILL IN ALL LIKELIHOOD ANSWER THE

    ACCUSATION WITH A GENUINE SMILE & HONESTY.

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. NV for Obama/Biden

    The only way Ayers should come up during the debate is when Sen. McCain is apologizing to Sen. Obama and the country for ever bringing it up in the first place!!!

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Scott in Atlanta

    Please read the article entitled "Make-Believe Maverick" in the October 16th edition of the Rolling Stones magazine. Even though they're a popular music publication, they've had some remarkable insight into the political arena.

    I dare you to read it "That one is a friend of Karl Marxs too"

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Karen from Charlottesville

    I really hope that McCain doesn't WASTE OUR TIME with that crap. The PEOPLE are interested in the economy, jobs, gas prices, mortgages and health care. Thinking people could care less about what somebody said or smoked in the 1960's. This is 2008.

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. John B. From New Hampshire

    i'm sorry, reading mcCain's prepared remarks, it seems as if there is NOTHING new!! just the same non-specific pipe-dreams. i will do this, that and the other. also he said he will what... stop abuses of power?!?! he ought to be careful about bringing up abuse of power, specifically by name considering his running mate is in a sticky place there!

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. even tempered

    So now he's going to bring up Ayers because Biden challenged him? McCain sounds like a child who can't resist a dare. Imagine how he would deal with Putin and other world leaders. This silly man has only three weeks left to take control of his campaign. If he can't manage a campaign how can he expect to manage the country.

    Obama '08

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Lu

    If Obama wins the election his former pastor and "Uncle" Rev. Wright will get his wish after all when he said, "God d- America!" Wake up you starry-eyed liberals, a vote for Obama is a vote for doom.

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

    McCain will be lucky if Obama doesn't bring up McCains past transgressions. So far Obama has not jumped into the mud pit with McCain...but if push comes to shove....it would be best for McCain if that stuff went unsaid.

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Sebastian, Louisiana

    It doesn't matter. Any intelligence human being knows that Ayers is not a factor. He is as much a factor to Obama as the men and women who sit around the board tables I share. I don't know much about those people, but I have worked with some of them for years. If they have skeletons in their closet it would all be news to me.

    Just because I am at the table with them, helping indigent children get books, computers and Cochlear implants, doesn't mean I subscribe to their politics, eat their foods or have reason to own their sins.

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

    Palin shot Bullwinkle and ate Rocky

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. sabrina01

    Ok then I guess you're ready for your judgement call about Martin Luther King....Keating Five....which I know Obama will not waste time on too much of that trashes talk ........He focus on telling the people how we are going to get out of this

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. was4hillarynow4that1

    Then I hope that banking snafoo you were in all those years ago gets thrown up in your face, John.

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Suem

    If this is what McCain tries to bring up in the debate he will surely end his run for President. This is what he tryed in his rallies and look how they insighted the crowds to chant, terrorist, kill him, McCain has no clue as to how to run a campaign much less run the United States, it looks like Cindy, Sarah, and his campaign chairman are the ones running this campaign........but maybe they know something we already know McCain is losing it........

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. SD

    GO AHEAD AND BRING UP AYERS........

    DO THAT AND YOU'LL GUARANTEE 5% MORE FOR OBAMA LATER THIS WEEK!!!

    THANKS JOHNNY.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    PS, LUV YA JOE!

    October 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. milo

    I don't get this whole "being truthful" thing.

    Obama addresed it months ago. He has given it full disclosure.

    What more does McCain want Obama to say about it? I get the impression he just wants Obama to keep talking about it over and over. And Obama has no reason to, and is too smart to fall for that.

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. Former BO & Dem Supporter -- NOW BACK!!!!

    Yeah, John, the last ol' ACE up the sleeve???? It's already been discussed and dismissed months ago...same with the Rev. Wright. If that's all you got, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK.

    ALL YOU YOUNG PEOPLE GET OUT TO VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!!

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
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