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John McCain’s campaign has let it be known that, in the final month leading up to the election, they’re prepared to go as negative as humanly possible. Translation: Nothing’s off the table. Not race. Not class. Not Rev. Wright. And not Bill Ayers.

Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, served on two nonprofit boards with Obama. Both Ayers and his wife hosted a meet-and-greet for Obama at their home in 1995. The McCain campaign is now throwing Ayers all over the place, trying to make him the Willie Horton of the current race. Why, just yesterday Sarah Palin accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”—perhaps the bullshittiest of her myriad bullshit phrases.

So what to do? If I’m Obama, I don’t sit back—I attack. In Tuesday’s debate, when McCain inevitably brings Ayers up as his last ditch, pathetic attempt to win this thing, this is what Obama should say: “You know John, when I found out I would be running for the presidency against you, I was excited. Here was a man, I thought, who would run on principle. Who might not share most of my ideas, but at least speaks with integrity and decency; who will run a campaign on the issues, and only on the issues. Well, it saddens me—truly saddens me—to see how wrong I was. John, you know—without question, you know—that Bill Ayers was and is not a friend of mine; that he’s someone I was listed alongside on a nonprofit board 10 years ago. You know that—without question. And yet, in your own desperation, you’ve decided to sink to the lowest common denominator; to listen to all the former Bush aides you’ve hired … the ones who tried to destroy you eight years ago.

“John, correct me if I’m wrong here, but you served 23 years on the Senate alongside Strom Thurmond, a devout segregationist who once stated, ‘I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.’ You shared taxis with Strom Thurmond; had lunches and dinners together; voted along the same lines more than 95 percent of the time.’ But do I believe you to be a racist? To share the views Strom Thurmond expressed 30 years before you even met him? Of course not. Of course not.”

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