A campaign advertisement by John McCain, the US Republican presidential candidate, has been dismissed by his Democratic rival, Barack Obama. (photo, from timeinc.net)
In the television advertisement, released by Mr McCain’s camp, Mr Obama was being compared to US pop singer Britney Spears, and mocked for being more of a “celebrity” than a politician.
“He spends an awful lot of time talking about me … I haven’t seen an ad yet where he talks about what he’s going to do … because those folks know they don’t have any good answers”, said Mr Obama on Wednesday, while campaigning in Missouri.
After the Illinois senator said Republivan attacks were “trying to make you [the US voter] scared of me”, on Thursday, Mr McCain’s camp accused his rival of playing “the race card”.
“Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong”, said Mr McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis in a statement.
The Democratic candidate had remarked that the attacks say “he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name … he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know, he’s risky”.
Mr Obama’s associates were overreacting, said John McCain’s camp, defending the “celebrity” television advertisement.
“It celebrates the excitement that he has generated, that is certainly more akin to the excitement that a celebrity generates than a normal politician”, Nicolle Wallace, a senior adviser to McCain, told MSNBC on Thursday.
The Republican candidate is runing a “an increasingly dishonourable campaign”, said Robert Gibbs, an adviser to Obama, adding that “the McCain campaign has very clearly decided that the only way to win this election is to become very personal and very negative”.
“We believe that people will see that as nothing more than the same old politics and the same old policies of the last eight years.”
John McCain’s advert had tapped into concerns in the US that Obama was an unknown quantity, John Nichols, a political writer at The Nation magazine, told Al Jazeera.
“He [Obama] seems to have exploded across the scene like a new pop star or a new movie star”, Mr Nichols said.
“It’s been good for McCain in that he has captured part of the public discourse [about Obama] and at this point that’s what he needs” Nichols said.
Although if elected to the White House on November 4, Barack Obama would be the first African-American US president, the contest between the two men has so far not dwelt on the often explosive issue of race in the US
Yet some associates of Mr Obama’s former Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, and her camp have been accused of exploiting race for votes.
Previously, both presidential candidates have said that they planned to run campaigns avoiding negative attacks, which in the past characterised some presidential elections, notably between George Bush and John Kerry in 2004.