Obama’s Bill Burton says debate McCain’s “last chance.” Memo

SHARE Obama’s Bill Burton says debate McCain’s “last chance.” Memo

Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:55 AM

To: Bill Burton

Subject: MEMO: John McCain’s plan to “whip” “That One’s” “you-know-what”

TO: Interested Parties

FR: Bill Burton, Obama-Biden Campaign National Press Secretary

RE: John McCain’s plan to “whip” “That One’s” “you-know-what”

DA: October 15, 2008

In tonight’s debate, Chuck Todd of NBC News says, McCain needs to “figure out how to disqualify Barack Obama.” Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin writes, “McCain will have to produce a major memorable moment.” The NY Daily News says the debate is “do-or-die for McCain’s campaign.” However they put it, people agree, John McCain needs a game-changer.

On the big issues, this debate is one last chance for John McCain to do what he has failed to do throughout this entire campaign: explain to the American people how his economic policies would be any different at all than the failed Bush agenda he has supported every step of the way. It’s his last chance to somehow convince the American people that his erratic response to this economic crisis doesn’t disqualify him from being President.

Just this weekend, John McCain vowed to “whip Obama’s you-know-what” at the debate, and he’s indicated that he’ll use Bill Ayers to attack Barack Obama. Even though Senator McCain has said he doesn’t “give a damn” about Bill Ayers, his campaign has admitted that if he talks about the economy, he’ll lose.

But perhaps the NY Times explained the peril of McCain’s negative strategy best this morning when they wrote: After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking. [NYT/CBS Poll, NY Times 10/15/08]

Senator Obama is going to use the debate to discuss his plan for the economy. That’s what he’s been doing this entire campaign. And on Monday, he built on his proposals in a new Rescue Plan for the Middle Class. That’s the kind of steady leadership and real change Americans are looking for – not John McCain’s erratic handling of the crisis, his constant character attacks, and the same Bush policies that have failed us for eight years.

But after two debates in which John McCain didn’t mention the middle class once – and after his campaign declared openly that they want to turn the page on talking about the economy – the real question is not how many attacks McCain can land in the debate, but whether he can finally communicate a vision to turn this economy around.

And while McCain has promised to attack Obama in the debate, every minute that he ignores the economy and the middle class is not just a minute wasted but time spent on attacks that even some of those closest to him have said don’t work.

Recent Comments on McCain Campaign Rhetoric:

Former Top McCain Strategist John Weaver: “As A Party, We Should Not And Must Not Stand By As The Small Amount Of Haters In Our Society Question Whether He Is As American As The Rest Of Us.” “John Weaver, McCain’s former top strategist, said top Republicans have a responsibility to temper this behavior…’We should take that agenda on in a robust manner. As a party we should not and must not stand by as the small amount of haters in our society question whether he is as American as the rest of us. Shame on them and shame on us if we allow this to take hold.'” [Politico.com, 10/10/08]

Former Republican Michigan Governor William Milliken Asked “Who Is John McCain?” And Said “He’s Not The McCain I Endorsed. … His Campaign Has Become Rather Disappointing To Me.” “But, now, who is John McCain? That’s what William Milliken, former Republican governor of Michigan and a supporter of McCain in the party primaries this year, is asking about a candidate who, in Milliken’s view, appears to have lost his way in this fight for the White House. ‘He is not the McCain I endorsed,’ Milliken, reached at his Traverse City home on Thursday, told the Grand Rapids Press for today’s editions. ‘He keeps saying, ‘Who is Barack Obama?’ I would ask the question, ‘Who is John McCain?’ because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me.’ ‘I’m disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues.'” [Chicago Tribune, 10/10/08]

Republican Rep. Ray LaHood Said Palin Should Cool Her Rhetoric Toward Obama. “Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois said Friday that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin should cool her rhetoric directed at Barack Obama. ‘This doesn’t befit the office that she’s running for. And frankly, people don’t like it,’ LaHood said during an interview on WBBM, a Chicago radio station. Palin has accused Obama of ‘palling around with terrorists’ and of putting ‘political ambitions in front of doing what’s right for our troops.'” [Politico, 10/10/08]

WSJ — “Some McCain Campaign Officials Are Becoming Concerned About The Hostility That Attacks Against Sen. Obama Are Whipping Up Among Republican Supporters.” “Top McCain campaign officials are grappling with how far to go with negative attacks on Sen. Barack Obama in the final weeks of what is turning into a come-from-behind effort. Sen. John McCain has allowed a series of increasingly harsh broadsides in new campaign ads and in speeches by his wife, Cindy, and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. But the Arizona Republican has rejected pleas from some advisers to launch attacks focusing on Sen. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Some McCain campaign officials are becoming concerned about the hostility that attacks against Sen. Obama are whipping up among Republican supporters. During an internal conference call Thursday, campaign officials discussed how the tenor of the crowds has turned on the media and on Sen. Obama.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/10/08]

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