Bumped and Updated: I've received word that the McCain campaign plans to run this ad in key battleground states beginning Monday.This ad is notable and historic because it is the first time that the McCain campaign has blatantly and deliberately played the race card.
The McCain campaign could have chosen others linked much more closely to Obama to focus on here. Former Fannie Mae CEO and former Obama adviser Jim Johnson (a white man) or Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (also a white man) are more logical choices because they are actual Obama advisers -- but clearly the McCain campaign wants two black faces up on that TV screen.
The policy link between Raines and Obama is transparently thin, and Raines' skin color is clearly the driving force behind the choice to use Raines instead of one of Obama's real advisers.
Update II: TIME agrees:
When politicians interject race into a campaign, they seldom do it directly. Consider McCain's new ad, which the campaign says it will be airing nationally ...
This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.
Let me stipulate: Obama's Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn't even mention a far more significant tie--that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman who had to resign as head of Obama's vice presidential search team after it was revealed he got a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama's principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.
Obama explained that he met Raines once and talked to him for "maybe 5 minutes" as opposed to the advisory role the McCain campaign alleges. "The guy actually had to send out a letter saying, 'Uh, that's not true. I actually don't really talk to the guy,'" Obama said, possibly referring to an email Raines sent to McCain advisor Carly Fiorina.
From: Frank Raines
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 2:24 PM
To: Carleton S. Fiornia (Carly)
Subject: Fw: IMPORTANT: Carly Fiorina/Obama campaign
Carly: Is this true? I am not an advisor to the Obama campaign.
From: Mark Fabiani
To: Frank Raines
Sent: Sep 15, 2008 7:30 PM
Subject: IMPORTANT: Carly Fiorina/Obama campaign
Frank, Carly Fiorina is, on behalf of the McCain campaign, criticizing Obama for having you as a housing advisor. The Obama campaign is saying that you are not advising it on housing policy. Will let you know what I hear.
----original post begins here----
McCain's False Accusations About Raines/Obama
originally published September 19, 2008
They're lying again....
Debunked by the Washington Post:
An already nasty presidential election campaign is getting nastier. The meltdown on Wall Street has touched off frantic attempts by both the McCain and Obama camps to secure political advantage and indulge in guilt by association. Over the last 24 hours, both campaigns have issued video press releases (let's not call them ads until they actually air somewhere) attempting to show that the other side's "advisers" are somehow responsible for the crisis. The latest McCain attack is particularly dubious.
Facts below the fold.
The McCain video attempts to link Obama to Franklin Raines, the former CEO of the bankrupt mortgage giant, Fannie Mae, who also happens to be African-American. It then shows a photograph of an elderly white woman taxpayer who has supposedly been "stuck with the bill" as a result of the "extensive financial fraud" at Fannie Mae.
The Obama campaign last night issued a statement by Raines insisting, "I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters." Obama spokesman Bill Burton went a little further, telling me in an e-mail that the campaign had "neither sought nor received" advice from Raines "on any matter."
So what evidence does the McCain campaign have for the supposed Obama-Raines connection? It is pretty flimsy, but it is not made up completely out of whole cloth. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers points to three items in the Washington Post in July and August. It turns out that the three items (including an editorial) all rely on the same single conversation, between Raines and a Washington Post reporter, Anita Huslin, who wrote a Style section profile of the discredited Fannie Mae boss that appeared on July 16. The profile reported that Raines, who retired from Fannie Mae four years ago, had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters."
Since this has now become a campaign issue, I asked Huslin to provide the exact circumstances of the quote. She explained that she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked "if he was engaged at all with the Democrats' quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said 'oh, general housing, economy issues.' ('Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific,' I asked, and he said 'no.')"
By Raines's own account, he took a couple of calls from someone on the Obama campaign, and they had some general discussions about economic issues. I have asked both Raines and the Obama people for more details on these calls, and will let you know if I receive a reply.
The Pinocchio Test
The McCain campaign is clearly exaggerating wildly in attempting to depict Franklin Raines as a close adviser to Obama on "housing and mortgage policy." If we are to believe Raines, he did have a couple of telephone conversations with someone in the Obama campaign. But that hardly makes him an adviser to the candidate himself--and certainly not in the way depicted in the McCain video release.
The right wing blogosphere is absolutely apoplectic over this. They've convinced themselves they have Obama in a gotcha! moment but, as usual, the lies and exaggerations of the John McCain campaign are quickly being brought to light, as is the obvious and blatant race card played here.
It doesn't matter to them that they are lying again -- they just don't care - the truth doesn't matter to the Republicans any longer. They are in full-boat lie and smear mode - and it's worked in past elections for them, and they are hopeful it'll work again.
Related: Race could cost Obama the election - AP
Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks -- many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.
The poll suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 -- about 2½ percentage points.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!