In a Newsweek election postmortem, members of John McCain campaign staff said VP candidate Sarah Palin had defied them with one of her most vicious attacks on Obama -- that he "pals around with terrorists."
Palin launched her attack on Obama's association with William Ayers, the former Weather Underground bomber, before the campaign had finalized a plan to raise the issue. McCain's advisers were working on a strategy that they hoped to unveil the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and top adviser Mark Salter was resisting.
Palin's supporters said at the time that it was the campaign that pushed her to go on the attack. Now, a new book has backed them up. According to Marc Ambinder, Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson's "The Battle for America" shows clearly that McCain's staff put the words in Palin's mouth.
Turns out that the McCain campaign was a week away from running an ad linking Obama to Ayers. The e-mail from Wallace, according to Balz and Johnson, reads as follows: "Governor and Team: rick [Davis], Steve [Schmidt] and I suggest the following attack from the new york times. If you are comfortable, please deliver the attack as written. Please do not make any changes to the below without approval from steve or myself because precision is crucial in our ability to introduce this."
McCain HQ had suggested the following line: "This is not a man who sees American as you and I do -- as the greatest force for good in the world. This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country."