(CNN) - John McCain’s aides say they are certainly happy to turn the corner away from the bailout package - but insist the campaign’s stepped-up focus on Barack Obama’s character does not mean the Republican presidential nominee is going to stop talking about the economy.
Instead, they will try to reframe the economic issue as part of their overall theme against Obama: You don’t really know this guy - and you can’t trust this guy. The words in their new ad say it all: “risky… dangerous.”
As Obama and running mate Joe Biden take a break from the trail Monday, McCain and VP nominee Sarah Palin are each pursuing a different part of that strategy.
In New Mexico this afternoon, aides say McCain is expected to revive his attacks on Obama — a top recipient of campaign cash from from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — for taking money from the failed mortgage giants, and for not coming up with solutions early in the crisis. The Arizona senator will once again talk about his own call two years ago for reform of Fannie and Freddie.
Last month, the McCain camp released ads highlighting Obama’s ties to former Fannie and Freddie officials — but that line of attack had not been prominent since a New York Times investigation alleged that campaign manager Rick Davis may have benefited financially from his firm’s links to the lenders until their collapse last month.
McCain advisors are wagering that the attack is worth the risk. One aide says that “with economic news at the top of voters’ minds, it makes sense for the top of the ticket to talk about Obama’s failures and lack of credibility on the economy.”
Meanwhile, Palin - who hit Obama this weekend over his associations with controversial Chicago figures - will continue a more personal line of attack, focusing on his relationship with Weather Underground founder William Ayers.
The two lines of attack are two sides of the same approach, says another advisor, questioning obama’s truthfulness and whether voters can really trust him.
But two McCain aides say Palin’s comments questioning why Rev. Jeremiah Wright wasn’t more of a campaign trail issue, was not planned as a signal that they are going to start adding Wright to the mix. The Alaska governor, they say, was just relating her personal opinion, not the strategy of the campaign,
Asked whether Palin’s remark wasn’t a green light to outside groups that Wright is fair game, the aide responded “we’re not that good to strategize like that,” adding that Palin was talking as a woman whose daughters pregnancy was fair game, who doesn’t understand why the comments of Obama’s pastor aren’t.