McCain campaign reconsiders Rev. Wright

Though the candidate ruled out use of Obama's pastor as an issue, he may be one of the last bullets in the McCain team's gun.

Published October 20, 2008 9:35PM (EDT)

You knew it was coming. John McCain’s campaign must be getting more frantic as the election gets close enough to taste, and the gap in the polls remains essentially unchanged. With the ACORN and Bill Ayers attacks apparently falling flat, and the economy making even racists into Barack Obama voters, it has seemed for weeks that the only hope for the Republicans was to increase the salience of racial issues in the election. But McCain had set aside what was supposed to be the magic bullet. Jeremiah Wright, McCain said, was off-limits because what happens in a candidate's church should not be an issue.

Well, according to McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, Wright may be back on the table, as he told right-wing pundit Hugh Hewitt on his radio show Oct. 16. But of course, it's not McCain's fault. The Democrats made him. They left him with no choice. Says Davis:

Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign. Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we're all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you've got to rethink all these things. And so I think we're in the process of looking at how we're going to close this campaign. We've got 19 days, and we're taking serious all these issues.

Right. The McCain campaign may have to bring up Jeremiah Wright, against its will, really, because of "the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics" of the George Wallace era.

Meanwhile, judging from the reference to the campaign's remaining "19 days," this will be a deed done more in sadness than in anger or desperation.

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.