08/09/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain Camp: We Won't Talk About Race Again

John McCain's campaign felt they had to respond to Barack Obama's comment about not looking like other presidents. Campaign manager Rick Davis said Obama "played the race card." But they tell the Politico that they don't want to discuss race anymore:

Obama's aim, in the view of the McCain camp: "to delegitimize any line of attack against him," said McCain aide Steve Schmidt. He said he saw that potential trap being sprung when Obama predicted in Missouri Wednesday that the GOP nominee would attack the Democrat because he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills." ...

But Schmidt said McCain had learned the lesson of Clinton's campaign, which began by taking her and her husband's affinity with African-American voters for granted but wound up seeing days and weeks consumed by racially charged gaffes and allegations, ranging from a New Hampshire supporter's suggestion that Obama had dealt drugs to Bill Clinton's own comparison of Obama's campaign to the Rev. Jesse Jackson's. ...

A former chief strategist to Hillary Clinton, Howard Wolfson, echoed Schmidt's comparison.

"I think the McCain camp watched our primary on the Democratic side very carefully and they know that any accusation of racial divisiveness can be very, very harmful for a candidate's prospects," Wolfson said on Fox News Thursday, adding that the allegations against Clinton were unfair. "They heard something that Senator Obama said and they felt they had to respond quickly to make sure that nobody got the impression that they were engaged in those kind of racial politics."

Schmidt said McCain's aides felt forced to talk about race, and that they don't plan to do it again.

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