"What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said. "You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
McCain took offense, and responded:
"I'm disappointed that Senator Obama would say the things he's saying," McCain told reporters in Racine, Wis. The Arizona senator said he agreed with campaign manager Rick Davis' statement earlier that "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."
Obama's camp defended themselves this way:
"Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue, but he does believe they're using the same old low-road politics to distract voters from the real issues in this campaign," said spokesman Bill Burton.
Let me say that I think Obama did make a mistake here, as McCain himself hasn't really brought up the issue of race, although Obama himself has, albeit in a different context. To be fair, Obama argued that the GOP would use race as an issue (and let's be clear, there's no other way to really interpret that "doesn't look like other Presidents" line), not that they did, although it's not really fair to make such a prediction without prior evidence. As to patriotism and attendant issues, Obama's on safer ground, at least with regards to the anti-Obama forces in general (less so with McCain specifically).
At the end of the day, on this issue, Obama played the race card.
Changing gears for a bit, there's been much talk about the campaign turning negative. It's a little disheartening, but not at all surprising, as I suspected for a while now that the idea of the candidates not going negative was a fairy tale. McCain has clearly decided to go negative, and if you ask me, it's personal now, as reflected by this now infamous ad, and this new one just put out.
First off, I'm not at all offended by these, but they are negative, decidedly personal, and ridiculous. The Spears-Hilton ad makes McCain look desperate. Some have suggested that there are racist overtones, but I don't see that at all. Rather, it's McCain basically saying Obama is an empty, vacuous celebrity with nothing to offer, like Britney and Paris. There are ways of making the argument I think McCain's trying to make, without taking it to that level. It makes him look silly, and frankly, a little petty.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.