In Albuquerque, NM, this afternoon, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, delivered his harshest attacks yet against Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., painting his Democratic rival as a mysterious, risky unknown.
"Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain asked.
“Even at this late hour in the campaign there are things we don’t know about Senator Obama or the record that he brings to this campaign,” McCain said. “We have all heard what he has said, but it is less clear what he has done or what he will do."
Speaking to a relatively small crowd of maybe 750 people, McCain said, "My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book….What has this man ever actually accomplished in government?"
“Nothing!” the crowd shouted.
"What does he plan for America?" McCain asked. "In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? But ask such questions and all you get in response is another angry barrage of insults."
"Who is the real Senator Obama?" McCain asked. "Is he the candidate who promises to cut middle class taxes, or the politician who voted to raise middle class taxes? Is he the candidate who talks about regulation or the politician who took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned a blind eye as they ran our economy into a ditch? Which one is it? Is he the candidate who promises change, or is he the politician who has bought into everything that is wrong with Washington? And he’s bought into it big time."
Unlike the allegedly mysterious Mr. Obama, McCain said, "I didn’t just show up out of nowhere, after all — America knows me. You know my strengths and my faults. You know my story and my convictions. And though familiarity in politics can be both helpful to a candidate, or not so helpful, it does at least fill out the picture and answer the essential questions. You need to know who you’re putting in the White House — where the candidate came from and what he or she believes. And you need to know now, before it is time to choose."
The attack comes just two days after McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, started saying that Obama doesn’t see America the same way most Americans do, and is "palling around with terrorists."
A new McCain-Palin TV ad asks the "Who is Barack Obama?" question and also calls Obama "dishonorable."
In April, McCain told Fox News, "Americans want a respectful campaign. Now, people say negative ads move numbers. They may. But do we have to go to the lowest common denominator? I don’t think so."
In May, Cindy McCain said that "none of this negative stuff though you won’t see come out of our side…My husband is absolutely opposed to any negative campaigning at all….We’d rather not win than have to do that. That’s not worth winning for."
– Jake Tapper and Bret Hovell