Attacks not so Great During Debates?

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With GOP presidential nominee John McCain down six to eight points in most major polls, his campaign is trying a new strategy.

They recently forecast they'd be going after Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama harder and more personally, and the attacks have been withering this week.

Click the play button for more with CBN News Sr. National Correspondent David Brody and Allison Kasic of the Independent Women's Voice.

In a campaign appearance in New Mexico, McCain went after Obama's inexperience, saying, "All people want to know is what has this man ever actually accomplished in government?" Then attacked Obama for misstating his record: "What Senator Obama says today and what he's done in the past are often two different things."

McCain also suggested Obama's not entirely honest: "For a guy who's already authored two memoirs, he's not exactly an open book. Who is the real Barack Obama?"

A recent McCain television ad ended with the words, "Obama and congressional liberals...too risky for America."

As for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate, she has been on the attack as well. In an appearance in Estero, Florida, she said, "Our opponent gives speech after speech about the wars that America is fighting. And it sure would be nice if just once he'd say he wants America to win."

Conservatives have pushed the campaign to tackle Obama over his association with former domestic bomber Bill Ayers. Palin's gone for it. She said in another Florida speech, "His own top advisor said that they were "certainly friendly."  In fact, Obama held one of his first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers' living room."

Obama's punching right back, bringing up in a 13-minute Web video the 1980s' Keating Five savings and loan scandal, where the Senate rebuked McCain for using poor judgment.

And Obama continues to try to link McCain to the economic meltdown. Obama said to the news media in Asheville, North Carolina, "The American people are losing right now: they're losing their jobs, they're losing their healthcare. They're losing their homes, they're losing their savings."

Obama also suggested the personal attacks may be far from what the American people want to hear: "I cannot imagine anything more important to talk about than the economic crisis and the notion that we would want to brush that aside and engage in the usual political shenanigans and smear tactics that have come to characterise too many political campaigns I think is not what the American people are looking for."

But now that they're facing off in Nashville, Tennessee for their second debate, McCain and Obama may find it tough to carry the personal attacks onto the debate stage.

The audience asking most of the questions are hand-picked uncommitted voters, and they're the folks least likely to appreciate personal attacks.

Voters are often turned off by too much anger.

And it's one thing to blast an opponent in ads, quite another to do it when he's right next to you.

The format is said to favor McCain, a veteran of hundreds of townhall style meetings.

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CBN News
Paul Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Sr. Washington Correspondent

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