McCain, Obama Get Tough, Personal In Final Debate

John McCain told Barack Obama to his face Wednesday night, "You didn't tell the American people the truth" about a key campaign pledge as the two presidential rivals slung accusations at close quarters in the final debate of their campaign for the White House.

"One hundred percent, John, of your ads, 100 percent of them have been negative," Obama shot back a few moments later to his rival, seated only a few feet away at a round table.

"That's not true," McCain retorted.

"It is true," said Obama, seeking the last word.

McCain is currently running all negative ads, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But he has run a number of positive ads during the campaign.

Behind in the polls, McCain played the aggressor early and often.

He demanded to know the full extent of Obama's relationship with William Ayers, a 1960s-era terrorist, the Democrat's ties with ACORN, a liberal group accused of violating federal law as it seeks to register voters, and insisted Obama disavow last week's remarks by Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat, who accused the Republican ticket of playing racial politics along the same lines as segregationists of the past.

Struggling to escape the political drag of an unpopular Republican incumbent, McCain also said, "Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. ... You wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago."

Obama returned each volley, and brushed aside McCain's claim to full political independence.

"If I've occasionally mistaken your policies for George Bush's policies, it's because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people — on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities — you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush," he said.

McCain's allegation that Obama had not leveled with the public involved the Democrat's decision to forgo public financing for his campaign in favor of raising his own funds. As a result, he has far outraised McCain, although the difference has been somewhat neutralized by an advantage the Republican National Committee holds over the Democratic Party.

"He signed a piece of paper" earlier in the campaign pledging to accept federal financing, McCain said. He added that Obama's campaign has spent more money than any since Watergate, a reference to President Nixon's re-election, a campaign that later became synonymous with scandal.

Obama made no immediate response to McCain's assertion about having signed a pledge to accept federal campaign funds.

Asked about running mates, both presidential candidates said Democrat Joseph Biden was qualified to become president, although McCain qualified his judgment by adding the words "in many respects."

McCain passed up a chance to say his own running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was qualified to sit in the Oval Office, though he praised her performance as governor. Obama sidestepped when asked, saying it was up to the voters to decide.

McCain used the opening moments of the debate to accuse Obama of waging class warfare by advocating tax increases designed to "spread the wealth around." The Democrat denied it, and countered that he favors tax reductions for 95 percent of all Americans.

"Nobody likes taxes," Obama said in an exchange early in the third and final debate of a campaign nearing its end. "But ultimately we've got to pay for the core investments" necessary for the economy.

"If nobody likes taxes, let's not raise anybody's, OK?" McCain retorted with a laugh.

McCain's allegation stemmed from one of Obama's campaign appearances last weekend.

In Ohio on Sunday, Obama was approached by one man who said, "Your new tax plan's going to tax me more."

A video clip caught by Fox News shows Obama replying, "It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too. And I think that when we spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

McCain referred repeatedly to that voter, Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber from Toledo, Ohio.

Wurzelbacher watched Wednesday night's debate and said he still thinks Obama's plan would keep him from buying the small business that employs him.

About McCain: "He's got it right as far as I go."

Even so, Wurzelbacher declined to say who was getting his vote.

He said he was surprised that he was called "Joe the Plumber" repeatedly during the debate.

"It's pretty surreal, man, my name being mentioned in a presidential campaign."

McCain's reference to Ayers reprised campaign commercials he has run to try and raise doubts about Obama's fitness to serve.

Ayers, who was a member of the violent Weather Underground in the 1960s, hosted a meet-the-candidate event for Obama in an Illinois race many years later.

"The fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me," Obama replied.

The two men debated at a round table they shared with Bob Schieffer of CBS, the moderator.

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  • by Little Woman on Oct 18, 2008 at 08:58 PM
    To Obama 08 4 Prez!, I agree with you on not arguing back and forth with the good ole boy republicans, I also the fat lady singing and she is singing loud.
  • by Obama 08 4 Prez! on Oct 18, 2008 at 06:17 PM
    I have stop arguing back and forth with the good ole boy republicans. Like I said before, voting is just a technicality...Obama has won the race. Wait...what's that I hear?'s the fat lady singing.........
  • by Judy Location: Columbia on Oct 18, 2008 at 06:00 PM
    Al Sharpton #08. OJ #08 . It would'nt matter. They would get as many votes as Obama has just because certain people will vote race PERIOD and not the character of the person and their abilities.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Lil Washington on Oct 18, 2008 at 03:21 PM
    I think the reason Lavons posts have not been accepted is because she doesn't have any facts, just conjecture, party lines and rumor. The stuff we really don't need at time we have serious election. We have heard it over and over again from the liberal playbook. I think you could see through that album, its been played on this board so many time. Play nice, be nice and have a good night all, see ya.
  • by To Anonymous Location: greenville on Oct 18, 2008 at 02:53 PM
    I too am a little leary of "moderator",not sure if someone new is doing this, but I've posted several comments w/ facts about obamas beliefs and links to articles like cnn that quote him and not one of them got posted here.
  • by $$$ on Oct 18, 2008 at 01:03 PM
    To Anonymous, I think it is because I don't spend 24\7 bad mouthing every one on here. Yes I do bad mouth McCain\Palin because they are both deserving of it, they deserve a lot more than I can get WITN to post for me.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 18, 2008 at 12:36 PM
    I agree 100% Windy w/ your post. Just vote!!! I'll be so glad when the election is over.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 18, 2008 at 12:07 PM
    To $$..your post were accepted because it was favorable of Obama. Since witn is in his pocket like all the other liberal media why wouldn't they post your comments?
  • by Windy on Oct 18, 2008 at 09:15 AM
    Some of you people just need to go vote and get over yourself, don't just talk the talk. Obama\Biden 08
  • by Devil Dog Location: New Bern on Oct 18, 2008 at 07:33 AM
    Redistribution of wealth will lead to a redistribution of education. EVERYONE with A's give one grade to a person who makes D's. Then we will have all B and C students. The statistics will look great and the teachers will get bonuses. GIVE ME A BREAK!

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