McCain's Choice
Going into tonight’s second presidential debate in Nashville, there has been a lot of speculation about whether John McCain will piggyback on the negative attacks launched against Barack Obama by Sarah Palin over the weekend. The goal of these attacks has been to cast new doubt on Obama’s character and judgment in the minds of undecided voters, many of whom seem increasingly comfortable with the idea of an Obama presidency.
If McCain chooses this strategy tonight, he may encounter several potential pitfalls. The most obvious is the potential for a backlash among moderate voters, who, unlike members of each party’s base, are typically uncomfortable with this kind of aggressive partisanship. Also, the current attacks on Obama using the likes of William Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and others are already quite familiar to many voters from the presidential primaries, so it may be the case that these attacks have already had their maximum impact on voter perceptions of Obama. Finally, it may be very difficult for McCain to launch these kinds of negative attacks in a policy-oriented town hall format without it sounding awkward and out of context.

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