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Mr. McCain has refrained though from using one potentially explosive Obama associate - the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

Mr. Obama’s longtime pastor had been the center of controversy earlier this year during the Democratic primaries when videos surfaced of his calling on God to smite the U.S. and claiming that the government invented AIDS as a weapon to use against racial minorities. A series of flaps eventually forced Mr. Obama to resign his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ.

Despite repeated calls from conservatives outside the campaign, the McCain team has stayed away from tying Mr. Wright to the candidate, with top adviser Charlie Black saying: “Senator McCain has said in the past that he would not talk about Pastor Wright.”