Before the vice-presidential debate in St. Louis on October 2, I asked David Axelrod what he expected Republicans to produce as an October surprise this year, and whether his campaign was prepared to defend against them.
Now, just a few days later, with Sarah Palin referencing Bill Ayers on the stump and talking about Jeremiah Wright to The New York Times, it seems clear that the McCain campaign’s pre-election strategy will be to question Obama’s character by playing up his associations with political radicals.
Back in St. Louis, Axelrod did not seem worried.
“I expect that they are going to be very aggressive,” he said before the debate, and reporters started gravitating towards him. “But you know, look, one thing I never expected was that anyone was going to come marching out of the Republican National Committee and say, ‘OK, we give up three weeks before an election.’ I think they are going to run a very aggressive campaign and I think a very negative campaign. So–and then there are things you can never anticipate. Who knew this meltdown on Wall Street was going to happen when it happened? But we’ll take what comes and put one foot in front of another. We have three more debates, including this one, that I think are going to be important. So any number of things could happen. But is there something that I fear? No.”