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October 17, 2008
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With less than a month left until the general election, the campaigns of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have lent themselves to the tactics that every campaign sets out to avoid, yet inevitably resorts to.
Negative campaigning and attack ads has become the norm in today’s political arena and as McCain continued to feel the pressure of his poll numbers slipping his need to “take the gloves off” had become quite evident and Obama’s retaliation was soon to follow.
McCain’s attack points do not vary much from his criticisms of Obama throughout the campaign, highlighting the junior senator’s relationships with questionable characters, such as former domestic terrorist and current education professor Bill Ayers. Ayers and Obama served on a charity board together and Ayers once hosted an event for Obama while he was still in the Illinois state senate. McCain is attempting to take the attention away from the struggling economy, which he admitted was not his strong suit, as well as saying that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” and shift the discussion to national security where McCain’s war-hero status and experience gives him the advantage.
Although Obama is also reiterating many of the same differences he has pointed out throughout the campaign, such as McCain’s trickle-down tax plan versus Obama’s tax cuts for 95% of Americans, or the Arizona senator’s similarities to President Bush, he has ventured into some new ground in his ads. He has begun to bring up McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five, a scandal involving McCain and four other U.S. senators. The senators were accused of acting inappropriately on behalf of former Lincoln Savings and Loan Association Chairman Charles H. Keating Jr. McCain was criticized for his “poor judgment” by the Senate Ethics Committee, but not found to have acted improperly.
As Friday saw Senator Obama’s lead increase to as much as eleven points in Newsweek’s poll, McCain’s shift towards negative campaigning has not yet shown to be effective, but as Election Day quickly approaches, it seems that the GOP nominee’s back is against the wall, and we cannot expect him to put the dogs back on the chain.