Karen Tumulty writes:
When politicians interject race into a campaign, they seldom do it directly. Consider McCain's new ad, which the campaign says it will be airing nationally ...
This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.
Let me stipulate: Obama's Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn't even mention a far more significant tie--that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman who had to resign as head of Obama's vice presidential search team after it was revealed he got a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama's principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.
The AP digs into the thin claim that Raines is an Obama adviser:
Obama's campaign says Raines is not an Obama adviser and that McCain's campaign knows it because Raines said so in an e-mail earlier this week to Carly Fiorina, a top McCain adviser. Obama's campaign provided The Associated Press with a copy of the e-mail.
"Carly: Is this true?" Raines asks above a forwarded note informing him that Fiorina was on television saying he was an Obama housing adviser. "I am not an adviser to the Obama campaign. Frank."
Obama's campaign says Fiorina did not respond.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said he was not aware of the e-mail to Fiorina, but noted that the Post reported on three occasions, between July 16 and Aug. 28, that Raines was advising Obama.
"If he was not advising, obviously someone somewhere along the way should have corrected the record," Rogers said.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said he has since asked the Post for a correction. Burton said Obama only met Raines once briefly at an event, and that Raines sought an introductory meeting with Obama Senate aide Mike Strautmanis. At that meeting, Burton said no advice was sought from or given by Raines, who also had served as President Clinton's budget director.
Watch the ad: