The morning began with news that the North Carolina Republican Party was planning to run an ad that will reference “controversial figures from Obama’s past.” Ever since, both the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee have been trying to distance themselves from the effort.
On a landing strip near Inez, Ky., RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said he put in a call this morning to the chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party. “I left a voicemail encouraging her not to run the ad,” he said. Katie Wright, an RNC spokeswoman, elaborated, saying the national party first learned of the ad last night, and raised objections at a staff level. “We didn’t see it as helpful or appropriate. But they are an independent organization,” she said of the North Carolina state party.
A few minutes later, McCain weighed in himself. “We asked them not to run it. I am sending them an email as we speak asking them to take it down,” McCain said. “There is no place for that kind of campaigning.”
In this respect, McCain continues to draw a fine — and somewhat fuzzy — line between those issues from Obama’s past that are fair game and those that are not. While he has mostly ruled out Obama’s relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a legitimate issue, McCain spent Sunday saying that Obama’s relationship to another controversial figure, William Ayers, was a legitimate issue. Ayers, a former member of a violent fringe of the anti-Vietnam war movement, the Weather Underground, is a now a college professor in Chicago.
“His relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question,” McCain said on ABC’s This Week, about Obama. “He became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen. Does he condemn them? Would he condemn someone who says they’re unrepentant and wished that they had bombed more?”