John McCain's campaign manager says he is reconsidering using Barack Obama's relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue during the election's closing weeks.
In an appearance on conservative Hugh Hewitt's radio program, Davis said that circumstances had changed since John McCain initially and unilaterally took Obama's former pastor off the table. The Arizona Republican, Davis argued, had been jilted by the remarks of Rep. John Lewis, who compared recent GOP crowds to segregationist George Wallace's rallies. And, as such, the campaign was going to "rethink" what was in and out of political bounds.
"Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign," he said late last week. "Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we're all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you've got to rethink all these things. And so I think we're in the process of looking at how we're going to close this campaign. We've got 19 days, and we're taking serious all these issues."
McCain has reportedly avoided discussion of Wright because of its racial implications. Apparently, since he already stands accused of stoking crowd anger akin to the South in the 1960s, his campaign just might be willing to walk down that slippery slope and risk justifying Lewis' proclamation.
Even before Davis took to the Hugh Hewitt Show, it was clear that members of McCain's inner circle were pining for him to use some of Wright's more inflammatory quotes to hammer away at Obama. Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol that she didn't know "why that association isn't discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said."
Certainly there are Democrats operatives who have long anticipated the Wright card being played and are shocked, to a certain extent, that McCain has avoided the topic. One high-ranking strategist told the Huffington Post that he thought the Republican ticket could have gained far more traction by going after Obama's pastor "as opposed to some neighborhood association" -- referencing former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. McCain, he added, didn't have to even do it himself. He could pass the task over to a 527 organization or outside group. But with the money woes facing the Republican Party, the fundraising and infrastructure for such an effort has not been built. The decision to bring up Wright is left firmly in McCain's hands.
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