October 14th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Ayers will come up at debate, McCain says

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/14/art.ayers.mccain.gi.jpg caption=" 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. PlJones

    John have you not learned? We could Care Less About Ayers. We want to know what is going to happen with our economy, and our jobs at this point.

    Your talking off the issues, is the reason, why you are falling back in the polls. I now have to agree with President Obama when he says "John McCain Just Doesn't Get It"

    Poor fella you really don't get it do you???

    October 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. mary ca

    Wow that thing will blow his face, no wander why Obama has nothing to do with that guy but let's see what Obama will bring up, McCain should be think twice before he launch it in front of the public, because McCain have so many to hide it's unbelievable what we will learn from him, the dark side of his mind.

    October 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Cindy Nelson

    It's like McCain feels he has to ask him this now, to save face with his supporters. I hope when he does, he's ready to answer Keating 5 right back in his face. And Palins abuse of power guilty charge!!
    McCain should realize that the American Public hates Palin.
    Should have picked Lieberman, or anyone other to be his running mate.

    October 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. pat C.


    October 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Corey W

    If he does bring up Ayers, its over for McCain and you we hear about Keating 5. He's desperate now and will say and do anything.

    October 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Baze

    Thanks for the tip John, now we can get ready.


    October 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Dr. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA





    October 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. joyce

    he'll bring it up in the hopes that he can convince some undecided and put cloud on obama's character.

    but it will surely backfire because – and he should know this by now – barrack will prepare a rebuttal that will make him regret bringing it up.

    the less mccain talks about economy and offer a substantive solution – not copied – the less chances he'll get of even finishing this race with some decent electoral votes.

    October 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Goddess

    I hope he does. Then Obama can mention McCain's running mate was found to have abused her power. I think her PROVEN questionable ETHICS is very important to this election.

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. the other jd

    I hope he does bring it up, so that Obama can put that baby to bed once and for all. I think Obama should answer this issue (for what the 9999th time), and then say, "OK, John, are you ready to discuss the issues America cares about now?"

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. Jeremiah

    what about McCain and his "brother" relationship with Libby... didnt Libby say we need to shoot ATF agents in the head in 1994?

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. Ellie

    John McCain's promises sound like he's a Democrat. He lies. We've been listening to him for the last four years and when he spoke against Bush's policies, he turned around and voted with him. Check it out, it is said that was 90% of the time he voted with Bush. Can the American people really trust him?

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Phil, Ashburn, VA

    Bring it up. This debate will make 4 in a row for the Obama-Biden ticket. GOP with the pick of Sarah Palin completely killed any chance of a victory.

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

    BRING IT ON. You are already being seen as an angry old man. Focus on Ayers and not the economy and Obama can spend the next few weeks picking out a desk for the Oval Office.

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. GeorgiaPeachforObama

    G. Gordon Liddy mean anything to ya, John?

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Jack

    Teehee!!! Please do, My Friend. Please do bring Ayers up at the debate, so we can watch Obama hand you your own rump on a plate...

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Latina for Obama (nj)

    Go ahead Mccain...bring it on!!!!! is only going to help "that one".

    YES WE CAN!!!!

    October 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. DCdallas

    What about those Fascist Jew haters that John McCain was on a board with? And that WAS the agenda, not education like the board Obama was on with REFORMED 1960'S radical William Ayers ?

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

    McCain says the point is he wants to call Obama out for lying about his Ayer's connection. Meanwhile, his running mate lies again and again about whether she is guilty of abusing her power. Call her out, Sen. McCain. Seems like the truth is whatever they decide to make it. Same old out of touch with reality as we have with Bush.

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

    i hope he does bring it up. the media says no one is interested, trust me, people are! the more I think about this Ayers stuff the more i wonder if maybe Obamas mother had ties to radicals. they keep saying Obama was only 8 yrs old, but his mother must be close in age to a lot of radical extremists...hmm.. makes you wonder huh?

    October 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. FAYE, NV

    McCain that is old news and no-one really wants to re-visit that.
    Obama has told repeatly about his relationship with Ayers.

    Let us hear your plan without criticizing Obama.

    October 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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