October 15th, 2008
04:32 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama aide: There may be a ‘new wrinkle’ from McCain tonight

David Axelrod spoke with reporters on board a plane en route to New York Wednesday.

David Axelrod spoke with reporters on board a plane en route to New York Wednesday.

HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) –- With Barack Obama holding the advantage in most recent surveys, the goal for his campaign is to stay the course.

“Let me just say this, we weren’t discouraged by polls when they were not favorable for us, we’re not seduced by polls now,” Obama Senior Strategist David Axelrod told reporters on the plane ride from Toledo, Ohio to New York. “We think this is going to be a battle everyday right till the end and we’re prepared for that.

“I think Senator McCain’s problem is fundamental which is he’s got a bad argument, he’s on the wrong side of history. He’s arguing for a set of policies and approach that have been discredited in a really dramatic way over the last eight years. And I’m not sure any stylistic change or approach in a debate can change that.”

Axelrod dismissed the notion that the Obama campaign was “goading” John McCain into bringing up Barack Obama’s relationship with 1960s radical William Ayers. Yesterday, McCain said the issue was all but certain to come up because Obama said in a recent interview he was surprised the Republican ticket would bring the relationship up at rallies, but that the Arizona senator would not mention it in their face-to-face debates.

Axelrod said he did not think voters were “interested in a lot of finger-pointing and back-and-forth and personal gratuitous attacks. You know, I hope and I expect that this is not what this debate will be but all we can control is what we do. And all Sen. Obama can control is what he does and what he’s going to do in this debate is try and address the concerns that are on the minds of people.”

The preparation for tonight’s debate was not much different than it has been for the previous faceoffs, according to Axelrod. Obama is already “comfortable with the material,” he said, so a good bit of time was spent on the “logistics” and getting Obama accustomed to sitting at a table in close proximity to his opponent.

“It can change the feel of the debate, being in close proximity to someone else. It can change it in terms of lowering the tone it can raise the tone, so you know it’ll be interesting to see and I have no predictions. I don’t know what approach Senator McCain is going to bring,” Axelrod said.

When asked whether Obama was prepared for McCain to unveil a new economic policy proposal like he did during the last debate, Axelrod said it would not impact Obama’s focus.

“We’re not in the business of reinventing ourselves from debate to debate - that’s not what Obama is going to do. He’s been very consistent for 20 months, he’s going to be consistent tonight. And it may be that there’s a new wrinkle from Sen. McCain.

“Sen. McCain has been has been churning from day-to-day, and coming up with new approaches on the economy that sometimes are starkly different than the ones that he unveiled just a few days earlier, and we’ll see what happens tonight.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
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