Who started it? McCain or Obama

August 1, 2008 8:19:46 AM PDT
Trading charges anew over who was guilty of injecting race into the presidential debate, a subject unlikely to fade away, the campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama also blamed each other Friday for its increasingly negative tone. McCain has accused Obama of playing politics with race for predicting that the likely Republican nominee and others in the GOP would try to scare voters by saying the Democrat "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills." Obama's spokesmen denied he was referring to being black, although all the presidents on U.S. currency are white.

Obama senior strategist David Axelrod said Friday that race became an issue only when the McCain campaign cast a racial slant on Obama's remarks, which were made at a campaign swing Wednesday in rural Missouri.

The next day, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis issued a statement claiming that Obama had played "the race card" and calling the remarks "divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."

"We are not going to let anybody paint John McCain, who has fought his entire life for equal rights for everyone, to be able to be painted as racist," Davis said Friday on "Today" on NBC.

"We've seen this happen before and we're not going to let it happen to us."

Axelrod rejected the charge and repeated the assertion that Obama was talking about his status as a young, relative newcomer to Washington politics.

"Barack Obama never called John McCain a racist," Axelrod said on "The Early Show" on CBS.

--- Ludacris' Obama song unlikely to alienate voters ATLANTA (AP) - Ludacris' new song, "Politics as Usual," may have cost him one of his biggest fans, Democrat Barack Obama.

And for good reason: It points up the dilemma facing the nation's potential first black president, who wants the support of the influential hip-hop community but needs to steer clear of the controversy so commonly associated with its music.

Ludacris' "Politics as Usual" alludes to an imminent victory for Obama by handing out major put-downs to his rivals. It dismisses Hillary Rodham Clinton as a vice presidential candidate - "that (expletive) is irrelevant"- and says presumed Republican nominee John McCain doesn't belong in "any chair unless he's paralyzed."

Obama, usually a Ludacris fan, was quick to distance himself Thursday.

"While Ludacris is a talented individual, he should be ashamed of these lyrics," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in an e-mail statement. He also called the song "outrageously offensive."

Calls to Ludacris' publicist and manager were not immediately returned Thursday.

That Obama's one-time praise for Ludacris has turned to scorn really is politics as usual, said John McWhorter, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and author of "All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can't Save Black America."

"Of course, Obama and his people have to condemn the rap, because it does say some vulgar things," he said. "If you're running for president, you're supposed to be an upstanding individual."

While hip-hop fans are expected to be a factor in the November election, the song is not.

On the Net:

McCain: http://www.johnmccain.com
Obama: http://www.barackobama.com