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Politics & Power

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Vote Caging, Name Calling, Mud Slinging…Must Be October

This week the campaign for the White House got perceptibly nastier as the McCain campaign took the gloves off. Over the weekend VP candidate Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists” in an attempt to link his acquaintance to William Ayers the former radical anti-war activist and founding member of the sixties and seventies group the Weather Underground. This group was responsible for bombings of U.S. government facilities during the Vietnam War in an effort to bring the war to a close. While Obama has served on boards with Ayers and was a colleague of his during his tenure as a professor in Chicago, Ayers has had no active role in Obama campaigns other than to host one fundraiser for him over a decade ago. A CNN Fact Check of Palin’s claim that Obama was “palling around with terrorists” found it to be false.

In response the Obama campaign quickly produced a web documentary about John McCain’s involvement with Charles Keating. Keating was the head of Lincoln Savings and Loan which was at the heart of the Savings and Loan collapse in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. McCain faced ethics charges for his intervention with regulators on Keating’s behalf. As is pointed out on the video website John McCain is the only major party presidential nominee in US history to have been rebuked, censured or otherwise admonished after a Congressional ethics investigation. Keating was sent to prison for his role in the S&L collapse. A CNN Fact Check of this video found it to be true.

In response to the video McCain supporters called it unfair and biased. McCain on the stump then began asking “Who is the real Barack Obama?” insinuating that Obama has tried to obscure his past from the people. This led to Obama then pointing out that the Republicans were trying to shift the discussion from the economy to personal attacks because they can’t win on the issues.

In a separate issue McCain and Republicans are now being accused of “vote caging” which is the process of trying to remove eligible voters from the roles because of address discrepancies between their registered address and current dwelling address. There have even been accusations that the Republican Party has been sending out misleading absentee registration cards to Democrats in battleground states with incorrect registrar addresses for their area in an effort to disqualify them from voting. Many critics of the Republican tactics are calling this a repeat of 2000 and 2004 where there were many questions raised about the legality and ethics of Republican tactics used to win the White House for George W. Bush who lost the popular vote to Al Gore and had trailed John Kerry in the polls going into Election Day.

With McCain trailing in the polls it seems that the “Straight Talk Express” has been derailed and the campaign has returned to politics as usual. With many questioning his “maverick” label already it seems that he will have yet another hurdle to overcome in distinguishing himself from any other politician who has been in Washington for decades. On the other side the Obama campaign is being drawn into a mudslinging fight that they had mostly avoided since the end of the primaries which may hurt them with those voters who were supporting the candidate as a “different type of politician”.

Four weeks remain before the general election and the rhetoric will likely only get nastier and dirty tricks more frequent in what could be one of the closest elections in U.S. history. It may come down to one swing state in the end so every bit of maneuvering available to the candidates will probably come into play before the race is over. It’s anyone’s guess who will win but if nothing else this last month should be interesting.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article

Another Strong Debate Performance for Obama

On Tuesday night Barack Obama and John McCain squared off for the second of three scheduled debates. The issues ranged from taxes to international policy and it was clear that there were stark differences between the two men that would lead America for the next four years. While there were strong moments for both candidates neither was able to strike a “knockout” blow that would push their campaign to the point of being able to declare the race won.

Going into the debate most national polls had Barack Obama with a lead in the race. For most of the pundits the debate was a depicted as a must win for McCain if he was to regain ground on Obama in the overall race. At the end of the night many of the pundits from both sides of the political fence agreed that McCain had failed to do what he needed to do to gain ground on Obama.

In polls conducted by CNN of voters who had viewed the debate the thoughts of the pundits were validated. When the question of who won the debate was posed to voters who viewed the debate the majority found that Obama had won the debate. When it came to positive opinions about the candidates Obama’s numbers improved while McCain’s stayed flat. In one critical area for the McCain campaign Obama showed an edge for the first time in a poll of voters. For the first time in the campaign Barack Obama was seen by voters as being a stronger leader. On the economy Obama was seen as stronger by a more than twenty percent margin. With the economy being the top issue in the campaign for most Americans it gives a distinct advantage to Obama.

While most of the pundits gave the overall edge in the election to Obama moving forward, David Gergen raised the issue of race that is still an unknown factor in this election. Based on information from recent online polls many Americans still buy into many racial stereotypes and as Gergen pointed out Barack Obama is black. There may be people that agree with his politics that would vote against him solely based on the color if his skin. While this is a sad and a horrible reflection on America, it is nonetheless a factor that Obama supporters need to take into account if they hope to win the race.

One thing that most pundits do agree on is that if the race is to be won for Obama it will depend greatly on turnout on November 4th. Low turnout favors the Republicans and in a close election would give an edge to McCain. Knowing this, the Obama campaign is pressing all of their grassroots supporters to register voters and even help people get to the polls on Election Day so that nothing is left to chance.

Going into the home stretch for the campaign there is one more debate to go and most analysts agree that it is a must win for McCain and that he must win decisively to have a good chance at winning the White House. Obama should not assume he has won though. Most analysts also agree that this is a time that is dangerous for Obama. He needs to maintain confidence without seeming cocky and avoid any serious scandals from now until the end of the race. It is seemingly Obama’s race to lose or win but only the voters can decide what will happen on November 4th.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article

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