The McCain campaign’s descent into nastiness has elicited strong rebukes from the state’s top Republicans. This, unfortunately, has not stopped fliers portraying Barack Obama as a friend of terrorists and lacking judgment from showing up in Maine mailboxes or calls with the same themes from filling answering machines.
Most troubling is that the Maine Republican Party has picked up the dirty work. At least three fliers, with the notation “Paid for and authorized by the by the Maine Republican Party,” were sent to Maine voters – after the state’s top Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who chair Sen. John McCain’s campaign in Maine, said such negative tactics should end.
The first flier focused on the Illinois senator’s “friend” William Ayers. As has been widely reported, Sen. Obama served on two boards for charitable organizations with Mr. Ayers. The mailing focuses on Mr. Ayers’ involvement with the Weather Underground, a radical group that bombed government buildings, including the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. It does not mention that Mr. Ayers has not been convicted of any crime, is not on the government’s current list of domestic terrorists and that he was Chicago’s Citizen of the Year in 1997 for his education reform work.
A second mailing portrays Sen. Obama as soft on crime. A third focuses on developer Tony Rezko, who was convicted of fraud. All include the line: “Barack Obama. Not Who You Think He Is.”
The response from the Maine Republican Party is astounding in its belligerence.
“Obama’s connection to an unrepentant domestic terrorist like Bill Ayers is raising red flags across Maine and the nation,” Mark Ellis, the party’s chairman said in a statement. “That’s why the Obama campaign and the Democrats are so alarmed, they can’t defend this troubling relationship that raises serious questions about Sen. Obama’s judgment.”
He should be reminded that it is Republicans who are alarmed by the divisive and negative tone the campaign has sunk to in its final days.
“These kinds of tactics have no place in Maine politics,” Sen. Collins’ spokesman Kevin Kelley said of the automated calls that began as Gov. Sarah Palin was in Bangor earlier this month. “Sen. Collins urges the McCain campaign to stop these calls immediately.”
“These tactics should be suspended immediately,” Sen. Olympia Snowe’s Chief of Staff John Richter said of the calls and the fliers.
Josh Tardy, vice chairman of the campaign, said the Maine GOP printed and mailed the fliers on behalf of the Republican National Committee and that the issues raised are relevant, even if the tactics run counter to what Sens. Collins and Snowe asked.
There are good reasons to question Sen. Obama’s candidacy, such as his limited experience and liberal voting record. Resorting to spurious allegations doesn’t serve Sen. McCain or the Maine Republican Party well.