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. Hope - Arizona

    At this time I feel sorry for McCain. He has saddled himself with a poor choice for Vice President, he has no clear cut idea on how to address the economy, and his foreign policy is out of date and very Bush like. He has no idea what the average person is going through economically other than what he is being told, and therefore is not making valid judgements or coming up with anything new.

    As I read recently, and agree with, McCain is a shell of his former self, and needs to retire and enjoy life. I have spoken with many voters here in Southern Arizona – Republican and Democrates, and by a good majority they are voting for Obama.

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Tom in S.A.

    Well Obama lied to ya'll about Ayers but you are to blind to see it. How many other things has he flat out lied to you about. Says he was a guy in my neighborhood, now he says he sat on boards with him, which is it, you either know him or you don't. Just one of to many questionable charachters in Obama's life.

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. RepubNoMore

    I am a converted republican who has not decided that it is more important to vote on the issues, rather than these lies and smear campaigns intitiated by Palin and McCain. These two are toxic to one another and toxic to thier own campaign. The more they spread their lies, hatred, and fear, the more I am inclined to vote Obama–a man with more integrity in his little pinky than both of them combined. I am very excited for the debate tomorrow! Bring it on old man! Obama will show once again his intelligence and professionalism and you will look cranky!

    PLEASE PEOPLE...vote for a man with true character!

    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. ANGIE

    Anybody watch Mccain in Pa Today? I did the part where he said MY FRIENDS AS PRESIDENT I WILL CLEAN UP WASHINGTON I WILL CLEAN UP POLITICANS WHO ABUSE THEIR POWER LOLOLO I cant stop laughing, does that mean he will drop Pitbull? regarding the debate i hope he does bring up Ayers so Obama can set the record straight and we can put this puppy to bed and Move on and get Senators obama and Biden in the White house!

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Paul Thompson

    Now....

    Strong evidence...Ayers wrote Obama's book!!!

    What's going on??????????????

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Baby B

    I guess he did not get the Memo that this kind of attack is not working.

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    I guess when you can't win on issues, all you have left are smears, untruths and deception.

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. ANGIE

    Anybody watch Mccain in Pa Today? I did the part where he said MY FRIENDS AS PRESIDENT I WILL CLEAN UP WASHINGTON I WILL CLEAN UP POLITICANS WHO ABUSE THEIR POWER LOLOLO I cant stop laughing, does that mean he will drop Pitbull? regarding the debate i hope he does bring up Ayers so Obama can set the record straight and we can put this puppy to bed and Move on and get Senators obama and Biden in the White house!

    October 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. lil

    I am sure he will because your friend the moderator will bring him up
    mccain.
    Thats okay I dont think the answer to the question will hurt Obama but it might just hurt mccain. I am sure every body have already checked
    fact check so they already know that palin and mccain use ayers to
    almost insite a riot on purpose. Thats why mccain was on cnn yesterday says that he didnt care about a old washed up terriorist.
    We the American voters are on to you Mccain/Palin.

    October 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. sandiegosunshine

    Okey Dokey John...we're ready to hear you mention Ayers..
    can you say Keating and Liddy?

    October 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. dave g, minneapolis

    Fellow Americans AND MODERATOR (PLEASE POST),

    Please follow John McCain's recent debate request that we go check out the data provided by the National Taxpayers Union which show exactly how much money McCain’s policy proposals will increase yearly federal spending.

    [link removed] google NTU National Taxpayers Union

    Their data clearly shows that former Congressman Bob Barr’s policy proposals will decrease spending by $201 billion each year, while Senator McCain’s will expand the cost of government by $92 billion.

    But then look at Obama's poor plan for spending…even worse.

    Only Bob Barr is looking out for the country.

    October 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. Big Mike

    McCain just can't let it go. As with everything else he had pulled this to will come back to bite him.Enough said.

    October 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. S. Boatman

    I Dont Care If Obama Got The Guy A Present For His Birthday! Im Still Voting For Obama! Your Attacks Are Lame Mccain! This Just Shows That You Are Out Of Touch, Out Of Ideas, And Running Out Of Time!

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

    Poor old McCain is trying to show he's got cojones by dragging this Ayers crap up again and putting it in Obama's face during the debate.

    That's the only reason he's bringing this crap up again–he's being pushed to take it directly to Obama because he didn't have the intestinal fortitude to do it during the previous debate.

    This is such a farce. This is going to look so, so bad when he shuffles across the stage and mutters and mumbles some words about Ayers.

    He's going to look like a total buffoon trying to save his own dignity by "confronting" Obama with this. Can't wait to see McCain's body language and facial gestures when Obama smacks him with a dose of reality.

    October 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Jeff- Texas

    An old saying but so true.
    Show me who you are with and I will show you who you are!!!

    If Obama wins, Lord help us, Prepare for another 911

    October 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Amy For Obama

    And You will come right down Mr Mccain!

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

    Why are Obama supporters so negative? Is this what we have to look forward to the next 4 years. Not working and living off of the working peoples money. No thanks. Buy the way I have put in my 10 hours for today.

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. irony

    old man mclame, the erratic more of the same hateful republican, will be four more years of bush policy. palin, the lying power abuser, is a nut job who is directed by Toad, the misappropriater of state funds and resources. As far as I am concerned Toad and palin stole monet from the taxpayers by using government resources and time to pursue a personal family grudge. Sounds like Bush using the military for avenging his father by taking out Saddam even though he didn't attack us on 9/11.

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

    To think I once actually considered voting for McCain.
    His irresponsible choice of Palin blew me out of the water. What an insult to us all – men and women.
    She has now been delegated to spewing hate as a tool to try and win. I have a message for you Sarah Palin "Inciting hate for your fellow americans is not Patriotic!" and you and I (and most people I know) do not see America the way you do.

    John McCain – you could have won. An agent of change does not revert to the same politics of hate. Shame on you. You lost me and many other independents.

    Sarah Palin, go back to Alaska and race snowmobiles!

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. McShame

    Another lie from McCain. He will NOT bring it up, since he knows it would hurt him much more than Obama.

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. milo

    Palin already released her tax returns.

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. bill canada

    get ready to SHARE THE WEALTH america

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. Greg M.

    No more republican leadership ever, THE END !!!

    President Obama and V.P. Biden, we (family and supports) are eagerly awaiting the victory of positive change. we are taking this time to invite/ welcome you and your family to Baton Rouge, La. My family and I are working hard to get the best person in the white house. President Obama You have the support of the citizens of Baton Rouge La. and around the world. Don't worry about the lies, we've got your back. Citizens in Baton Rouge La. supporting President Obama

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. s. in illinois

    The more i think about this Ayers thing the more I wonder if Obamas mother was freindly with radicals. Is it possible his mother palled around with radicals? I mean people keep saying Obama was only eight at the time, but his mother may be closer in age to these people. hmmmm...makes you wonder.

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Los

    Yes please bring it up, we need to put this thing to rest once and for all. I really hope there is no further need to discuss such irrelevant matters once the subject is discussed in a nationally televised forum.

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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