Orlando (Florida), Aug.1 : Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain's campaign has accused Democratic rival Senator Barack Obama of playing "the race card".
"Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck," McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, said in a statement.
Davis was referring to comments that Obama made on Wednesday in Missouri when he reacted to the increasingly negative tone and negative advertisements from the McCain campaign, including one that likens Obama's celebrity status to that of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
"So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said in Springfield, echoing earlier remarks.
"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 those dollar bills, you know. He's risky. That's essentially the argument they're making," Obama said.
According to the New York Times, McCain later said he agreed, with what Davis had said, and added that Obama's methods were "divisive, negative, shameful and wrong." ccording to the NYT, Davis has effectively assured that race would once again become an unavoidable issue as voters face an election in which, for the first time, one of the major parties' nominees is an African-American.
Obama is the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.
The tactic could cut both ways: it might tap into the qualms some white, working-class voters in crucial swing states may have about a black candidate, or it could ricochet back against the McCain campaign, which has been accused even by some fellow Republicans of engaging in overly negative campaigning in recent days.
"This is a race about big challenges - a slumping economy, a broken foreign policy and an energy crisis for everyone but the oil companies. 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. And those are the issues he'll continue to talk about," claimed Robert Gibbs, a campaign spokesman.
The sparring over race is not new to presidential and other election-related campaigns in the United States. Contests have often been influenced by racial imagery, whether stark, like the Willie Horton advertisements run against Michael S. Dukakis in the 1988 presidential race, or subtle.
In the 2006 Senate race in Tennessee, Republicans ran an advertisement against a black candidate, the Democrat Harold E. Ford Jr., that featured a white woman saying, with a wink, "Harold, call me."