Wednesday, October 15, 2008

McCain Goes On The Attack In Final Debate

John McCain lashed out at Barack Obama's efforts to link him to George Bush's unpopular presidency. "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago," McCain said. McCain came out fighting last night in what was perhaps his last big opportunity to turn around a campaign less than three weeks before the election, but Obama emerged from the encounter relatively unscathed. McCain's poll numbers have fallen as Americans appear increasingly unwilling to put another Republican in the White House at a time of financial turmoil and fears of a recession. Major U.S. stock market indexes fell nearly 8 percent or more Wednesday. The 90-minute encounter, at Hofstra University outside New York City, had the fireworks lacking in the candidates' first two debates. With the rivals seated at a round table, McCain assailed Obama's character and his campaign positions on taxes, trade, abortion and other issues.

McCain heatedly demanded that Obama explain his relationship with William Ayers, a Vietnam war-era radical. Obama brushed off the attack, saying he was 8 years old when Ayers was involved in anti-war activities, including the bombing of federal buildings. For all of McCain's intensity, it was far from clear that he managed to undermine Obama's growing popularity. The attacks also risked a backlash: Polls have shown that personal attacks by the McCain campaign — including advertisements about Ayers — have backfired, alienating voters at a time that the economy is the overwhelming concern. When McCain talked about Ayers, Obama countered: "The fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Senator McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me." As in the previous two debates, national polls showed a majority of debate watchers rated Obama the clear winner. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 58 percent of those surveyed said Obama did the best job in the debate, with 31 percent saying McCain did better. The poll was conducted by telephone with 620 adult Americans who watched the debate and had a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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