Today, pundits and the mainstream media have nearly unanimously agreed that Sen. John McCain must give a knock-out performance in tonight's debate to have any chance of closing the gap with Obama in the presidential race.
McCain hinted earlier this week that he will bring up William Ayers tonight, and vowed to "whip," Sen. Barack Obama's, "you-know-what," but the lead New York Times story today suggested that negative attacks are actually hurting his campaign.
The Online100 agrees. 62% of the panel suggested that it is not a smart strategy for John McCain to bring up William Ayers in tonight's debate. But the majority of the panelists admitted that McCain probably will bring it up anyway.
One panelist suggested that the Ayers issue was, "a stupid sideshow that only hurts his ability to attract independent voters," and another respondent warned, "It will look cheap, desperate, and nasty and I'm sure Obama has a good reply waiting."
34% of the panel however, including 70% of right leaning panelists agreed that bringing up Ayers during the debate would be a smart move for McCain. As one panelist commented, "Obama's long working relationship with Bill Ayers, his political godfather, goes to the heart of his character and judgment." Another respondent noted, "There is a way to use it effectively, but i doubt he will."
One panelist thought that McCain should use the attack, "but only in passing, perhaps mentioning that one is judged by the company they keep."
70% percent of the panel predict that McCain will bring up Ayers tonight regardless, and several respondents suggested that McCain is "running out of time."
Only 17% of respondents thought that McCain would shy away from using the Ayers attacks, although a few that commented, noted that Bob Schieffer, would bring up the issue tonight, as one wrote, "The debate moderator will make sure McCain is asked about it after talking about it so much on the campaign trail."