Campaigns Go Into Attack Mode For Election’s Final Days

With less than a month until election day, both presidential campaigns are gearing up for a tough, ugly fight and plenty of mudslinging.

Hoping to take the heat of their candidate’s shortcoming on the economy, John McCain’s campaign announced this weekend that they’re going to take a decidedly dirty road and focus their energies on undercutting rival Barack Obama‘s moral standing.

Said one anonymous staffer: “We’re going to get a little tougher. We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here.” And McCain running mate Sarah Palin certainly took the lead in that game this weekend.

Speaking to a crowd in Colorado, Palin attempted to link Obama to William Ayers, a former member of radical group Weather Underground. Said the Alaska Governor:

Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America. We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.

The Obama campaign balked at the comparison and said McCain and his camp are simply looking for a distraction. The Associated Press took a harder line against Palin and described her remarks as “unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.”

Regret or no, McCain’s camp seems intent on attacking Obama. Just this morning the Republican’s camp released this commercial, called “Dangerous,” which takes aim at Obama’s “dishonorable” disregard to troops in Afghanistan. The commercial also takes on the “liberal” Congressional Democrats, who, the narrator claims, are putting our troops at risk by voting to cut funding for the wars.

Hoping not to be seen as weak in the election’s waning days, Obama has also taken to attacking his opponent. He and his campaign will today release a 13-minute documentary about McCain’s involvement with the so-called Keating Five savings and loan scandal. That scandal, they claim, helpe set the stage for the current financial crisis.

Pushing back against what it calls McCain’s “guilt-by-association” tactics, the Obama campaign overnight began e-mailing millions of supporters a link to a website,, which will have a 13-minute documentary on the scandal beginning at noon Eastern time on Monday. The e-mails urge recipients to pass the link on to friends.

The Obama campaign, including its surrogates appearing on radio and television, will argue that the deregulatory fervor that caused massive, cascading savings-and-loan collapses in the late ‘80s was pursued by McCain throughout his career, and helped cause the current credit crisis.

Obama-Biden communications director Dan Pfeiffer said: “While John McCain may want to turn the page on his erratic response to the current economic crisis, we think voters will find his involvement in a similar crisis to be particularly interesting. His involvement with Keating is a window into McCain’s economic past, present, and future.”

The Democratic National Committee also got in on the action this weekend, when they released an ad highlighting McCain’s past calls against negative campaigning. From the press release:

The new ad, called “Negative Attack Ads,” follows reports that McCain’s campaign is preparing a last ditch barrage of desperate negative attack ads aimed at “turning the page” from the economic crisis facing working families. Recent reports show that McCain has already shifted virtually 100 percent of its ads to negative attack ads.

The video pits a montage of some of McCain’s most vile attack ads against his own comments during the 2000 campaign, in which he told reporters on the Straight Talk Express that “if all you run is negative attack ads you don’t have much of a vision for the future.”

Prepare yourselves, Americans, for things are about to get really ugly.