With both national and swing states polls showing Obama gaining ground in this tightly contested election, the McCain campaign has become increasingly negative. The economic woes of the country do not appear to be dissipating. For McCain this is worrisome as economics is not his strong suit and potential voters continually rank Obama better suited to deal with economy. In an attempt to change the national debate from the economy to Obama’s perceived flaws the McCain campaign has ratcheted up the attacks.
Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin charged that Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and does not love America. Advertisements attempt to link Obama to former domestic terrorist now education professor Bill Ayers and hammer home his limited experience. These attack advertisements intend to scare voters away from Barack Obama. In addition there is an argument among campaign strategists that negative advertising disenfranchises voters. With democrats registering more new voters than republicans, perhaps the McCain camp hopes these attacks will reduce turnout on Election Day.
At the Republicans campaign events, it seems these attacks have had their desired effect as attendees profess their fear of an Obama presidency. It appears that linking the Democrat to a terrorist may be a game changer. For example at an event a woman explains that she is scared of Obama whom she believes is an Arab. McCain quickly takes the microphone from her and explains that no one should be frightened of Obama who he calls a decent family man and citizen. After spending so much money and time to scare voters away from the Democratic nominee, McCain is now defending him to his supporters.
Did John McCain rediscover his conscience? Will he retreat to the positive campaign he promised? Has he come to the conclusion that he needs to propose solutions and unite America in order to solve its problems? The answer to these questions is more than likely no, however, it is possible that McCain realised he had gone too far and is now trying to tone down his negative attacks. In the end it is unlikely that this type of campaigning will win this election when so many big issues such as the economy, terrorism, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are at stake.
By Michael Goldberg