McCain goes where he hasn't before in a debate: Bill Ayers. "We need to know the full extent of that relationship," he declares. Then he accuses the community organizing group ACORN of committing, potentially, "one of the greatest frauds of voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy in this country."
It is a wild accusation, not grounded in any bit of reality. Just asked Florida Gov. and McCain surrogate Charlie Christ, who says the allegation is being overblown.
Obama responds by explaining his relationship with Ayers: "Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago. 40 years ago when I was eight years old he engaged in despicable acts with a domestic group. I have roundly denounced those attacks. Ten years ago he and I served on a school board funded by one of Ronald Reagan's close friends ... The fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign," he concludes, "says more about your campaign than it does me."
McCain glared and smirked during the exchange.
Here's Maude Hurd, of ACORN, responding to McCain's accusations:
"We appreciate that Senator McCain's effort to stir up the Republican base by attacking a community group that is trying to increase public participation in our democratic processes. However, these attacks reflect an increasingly panicky candidate; unfortunately the Senator McCain we saw tonight is very different than the Senator McCain who stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN at a February 20, 2006 immigration reform event.
It is clear for us to see that John McCain was for ACORN before he was against ACORN; he was for reform before he was against reform; and he was a maverick before he became erratic. What is really going here is that Senator McCain and his allies are part of a coordinated effort to engage in what appears to be an unprecedented effort to suppress voter turnout."