In a memo and a new TV ad, Barack Obama's campaign is trying today to inoculate him against what it expects to be increasing attacks from John McCain.
The assaults, Obama's camp, says are a sign of desperation as the economy tanks and McCain's poll numbers sink. The ad, to air on national cable, does not specify any of the attacks, but asserts that the Republican is trying to change the subject from the economy.
"He’s out of ideas, out of touch, and running out of time," the announcer says, over images of McCain. "But with no plan to lift our economy up, John McCain wants to tear Barack Obama down. With smears that have been proven false. Why? McCain’s own campaign admits that if the election is about the economy, he’s going to lose.
"But as Americans lose their jobs, homes and savings, it’s time for a President who’ll change the economy," the announcer says, over images of families, houses, and Wall Street. "Not change the subject."
In the memo, spokesman Bill Burton warns that McCain will go after Obama during tonight's debate.
"In order to change the dynamics of this race, we anticipate that McCain will launch his nastiest attacks and continue to lie about Barack Obama’s record and his vision to fundamentally change our country," Burton wrote. "We don’t know if McCain will continue his refusal to even look at Obama on stage -- like in their first debate -- but we fully expect that his “turn the page” strategy to ignore the economy will be seen in full view for 90 minutes of character attacks against Barack Obama.
"The fact is, McCain has erratically been all over the map in recent weeks, telling Americans that the fundamentals of the economy are strong only days before claiming to suspend his campaign and warning of another depression. John McCain just doesn’t get it. The American people aren’t interested in nasty, false attacks, and they’re not interested in four more years of Bush policies. But that’s all he’s offering.
"If all he does is attack Barack Obama, as he’s said he’ll do, it will be yet another colossal missed opportunity. In the face of those attacks, Barack Obama will continue to offer steady leadership, and talk about his plan to give real relief to the middle class and create good jobs here in America."
The memo also tries to raise expectations for McCain, and lower them for Obama, by citing the debate's format -- a town hall with questions coming from voters in the auditorium at Belmont University in Nashville and from the Internet.
"When it comes to sheer format, we enter today’s debate the decided underdog. John McCain does extremely well in town hall settings. It’s been his favorite format throughout his career and we think that he will of course do very well," Burton wrote.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.