- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

John McCain” href=”/themes/?Theme=John+McCain” >John McCain lashed out Monday at Barack Obama” href=”/themes/?Theme=Barack+Obama” >Barack Obama’s political pedigree, tying his rival to notorious Chicago machine politics as the Republican struggled to reclaim the advantage that slipped to Mr. Obama as the Wall Street mess has unfolded.

In a new ad, John McCain” href=”/themes/?Theme=John+McCain” >Mr. McCain accuses his Democratic opponent of running the same “corrupt Chicago political machine” as convicted felon and Obama patron Tony Rezko and the Daley family, which controls Chicago politics.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said they are raising the corruption issue because the press has failed to do so.

Barack Obama” href=”/themes/?Theme=Barack+Obama” >Senator Obama very directly has introduced the issue of associations in this campaign, I think, raising fundamentally that you can tell something about people by the company they keep,” top McCain aide Steve Schmidt told reporters.

As the financial sector spiraled downward last week so did Mr. McCain’s poll numbers, dragged down by his own confusion over the state of the economy and knocked off message by his own surrogates. What had been a slight three-percentage-point lead in the polls turned, and Mr. Obama now leads by 2.7 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls.

And a CNN poll released Monday showed that 52 percent of likely voters believe Mr. Obama would be better at handling the economy compared with 44 percent for Mr. McCain.

Sensing an opening, Mr. Obama sought to press his advantage, working to link Mr. McCain with President Bush, whose popularity has dipped below 30 percent in some national polls.

“We did not arrive at this moment by some accident of history,” he said in Green Bay, Wis. “We are in this mess because of a bankrupt philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to the rest of us.”

He hit his Republican rival for failing to change the “greed and irresponsibility” of Washington during his 26 years there and said his ties to lobbyists would prevent real change from coming to the nation’s capital.

As the campaign proceeds, the two camps have stepped up their on-air attacks through ever-harsher commercials.

Mr. Obama’s campaign took issue with the new McCain ad, saying it was an effort to distract from Mr. McCain’s stumbling last week and from reports, including one Tuesday in the New York Times, examining McCain campaign manager Rick Davis’ ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In a statement, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that rather than embracing Chicago’s political machine, Mr. Obama ran against it.

Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate as an independent Democrat. He took on the Chicago Democratic organization in a primary to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. And in both Illinois and Washington, he has challenged the Old Guard for landmark ethics reforms,” Mr. Burton said.

But Mr. McCain’s campaign said the ad, which will run nationally and in battleground states, is a fair response to what aides said have been repeated personal attacks by Mr. Obama.

The ad ties Mr. Obama to four Chicago figures, including Obama economic adviser William Daley, brother of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose election machine has been accused of dirty politics, and Rezko, who was convicted of fraud and bribery.

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