Sen. John McCain on Wednesday pressed Sen. Barack Obama to clarify his relationship with Bill Ayers, a former 1960s radical who belonged to the Weather Underground.
“Mr. Ayers is not involved in this campaign, he has never been involved in my campaign, and he will not advise me in the White House,” Obama said during the third and final presidential debate.
McCain’s campaign has charged that Obama’s association with Ayers should cause voters to question his judgment.
Ayers was a founding member of the radical Weather Underground, a group that was involved in bombings in the early 1970s, including attacks on the Pentagon and the Capitol.
Obama said Wednesday that the fact the McCain keeps bringing Ayers up “says more about your campaign than it says about me.”
McCain and Obama went back-and-forth Wednesday over the negative rhetoric that has dominated the campaign trail in recent days.McCain accused Obama of spending “more money on negative ads than any campaign in history.”
Obama responded that McCain’s campaign had been running exclusively negative ads, and that the public found McCain to be running a more negative campaign than Obama.
Earlier, McCain shot back as Obama tried to liken him to the current president, telling his rival, “I am not President Bush.”
“If you want to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago. I’m going to give a new direction to this economy and this country,” the Arizona senator said.
McCain’s remarks came after Obama charged that McCain is pursuing the same kind of policies as Bush.
McCain said he has a record of crossing party lines to get things done and told Obama that his “argument for standing up to the leaders of your party isn’t very convincing.”
Obama promised that he would “go through the federal budget page by page, line by line, and cut programs that don’t work” as president, echoing a vow his rival has made repeatedly.s Obama has opened up his lead, the McCain campaign has responded by trying to raise doubts about Obama, particularly by tying Obama to Ayers.
A New York Times/CBS News poll released Tuesday night suggests the McCain campaign’s negative attack strategy may be backfiring on the Republican presidential candidate.