Why John McCain Did Not Bring Up Wright

John McCain did not attack Barack Obama over Rev. Wright for one simple reason–it would not have benefited him. It had nothing to do with integrity. If McCain desired to preserve his integrity he wouldn’t have distorted Obama’s connection to Ayers, he wouldn’t have distorted Obama’s tax plan, and he wouldn’t have told any other of the lies he told during the campaign. Ben Smith reports:

John McCain’s top pollster, Bill McInturff, said this evening that attacking Barack Obama over his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright would not have helped McCain’s campaign and could have destroyed his presidency, had he been elected.

Some Republicans were angry during the campaign that McCain had — reportedly for reasons of principle, and out of concern that he’d be viewed as racist — refused to air ads with Wright’s inflammatory sermons, and believed they were fair game and a silver bullet against Obama. An outside group did air one such ad in the closing days of the race.

“I said ‘Look, if f we do win we’ll win with about 273 electoral votes and we’ll lose the popular vote by 3 million,'” recalled McInturff of the internal discussions about cutting attack ads with Wright. “If [McCain] had used that issue that way, you’d already be delegitimized as a president. You couldn’t function as government.”

As Ian Leslie commented, “I think McIntuff is over-optimistic about the upside.” Only fanatics would think Obama’s connection to Rev. Wright mattered once Obama made it clear he did not share Wright’s views. Only  fanatic Clintonistas thought it was an issue during the primaries and we saw how well using this worked for them. Only fanatic right wingers (and PUMAs) thought it was an issue during the general election campaign, and they already knew about it. There was no additional upside to McCain using the issue as those who would think it matters have already been hearing this from the right wing noise machine. McCain made many mistakes during the campaign, but he was right in realizing that raising Wright would do him more harm than good.

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