Monday, October 06, 2008

Did the longer primary help Obama after all?

I remember during the Democratic primary, there was hand wringing that the long primary battle against Senator Clinton would cause eventual harm to the Obama campaign. Would Democrats be able to join together and put bitter feelings aside? Would the attacks Senator Clinton leveled against Senator Obama come back to hurt him?

It turns out the answers are Yes and Yes. So far, Democrats have "come home", nearly all of the Clinton supporters backing the Illinois senator. But now we're starting to see the return of some of her attacks - particular the questions about Obama's patriotism regarding his former Reverend Wright and local neighbor William Ayers.

The McCain campaign launched a new attack the boils down to "Who is the real Barack Obama? The charges are to try to paint Obama as an outsider. Do you know he "pals around with terrorists"?

There's just one problem: it won't work.

See, people by now remember the long, protracted primary, and the accusations using Wright and Ayers and Rezko. And in the end, it all came down to nothing. The media investigated, reported, and - not much there if you go by the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times.

The main crux of the attack is that "Obama isn't really patriotic". But for almost 2 years now, the American public has seen him speaking, talking, appearing at debates. To suddenly accept that Obama is "paling with terrorists" is going to be hard for anyone but the most dedicated of the 25-percenters (those who support Bush and the Republicans no matter what).

And all along the way, the Obama campaign team has been prepared to push back, and push back hard, against any attacks on Obama's patriotism and origins. Perhaps if Obama was more like Kerry, and trusted that people would just "know the truth." Perhaps if Obama had been more erratic during the campaign and kept changing his message of "change you can believe in".

Perhaps if the primaries had been short, and now was the first time you've heard about this Obama guy with the funny name. For McCain to try this attack now, with 30 days to go - it's too little, too late. People's opinions of each man's characters has been set, and all that's left now is to either battle on the issues, or try to take the other guy down with you.

Seeing as McCain's negatives are higher than Obama's, in a mud fight, it's McCain who will wind up the pig needing the most lipstick.

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