ABC News’ David Wright and Jennifer Parker report: Republican John McCain’s campaign sparked a furious exchange of campaign attacks with the release of an ad linking Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to a former Fannie Mae chief who was forced out by an accounting scandal.
The 30-second ad released Thursday titled "Advice" quotes the Washington Post as saying Obama got advice on housing and mortgage policy from Franklin Raines, who happens to be African American.
The McCain campaign ad said Raines made millions and then left Fannie Mae while it was under investigation for accounting irregularities.
The government took control of Fannie Mae earlier this month in an attempt to stabilize the housing market.
"Bad advice. Bad instincts. Not ready to lead," the McCain ad said of Obama.
The Obama campaign disputes that Raines ever advised Obama or the campaign, circulating an email to reporters Friday from Raines to McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina stating that he is not an adviser.
"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 said Fiorina did not respond.
Asked by ABC News what evidence they have that Raines was an Obama adviser, an official with the McCain campaign cited a statement on Obama campaign letterhead denying any role in the campaign and a recent Washington Post story quoting him as an Obama adviser.
"We believe what they say in the media," the McCain official said, smiling broadly.
Obama responded with an ad about McCain’s "fundamentally wrong" advisers with images of former McCain adviser Phil Gramm who stepped down from the campaign after an interview in which he talking about a "mental recession" and a "nation of whiners."
The Obama campaign ad highlighted a McCain statement this week, as turmoil rocked Wall Street, that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong."
An Obama campaign official explained the ad, saying, "you can’t let any attack go unanswered."
As the campaign breaks into it’s final stretch, both campaigns are releasing ads detailing political skirmishes almost daily designed to get attention in the media.
While the news media cover the ads, it’s not clear whether any of these ads will actually air on television because the campaigns refuse to release details of their ad buys.