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Obama's Judgment Is Questioned

Friday, August 22, 2008

Videos of these ads can be found at www.washingtonpost.com/politics.

THE AD

Narrator:"Barack Obama knows a lot about housing problems. One of his biggest fundraisers helped him buy his million-dollar mansion. Purchasing part of the property he couldn't afford. From Obama, Rezko got political favors including 14 million from taxpayers. Now, he's a convicted felon, facing jail. That's a housing problem."

ANALYSIS

This John McCain ad attempts to drag back into the news Obama's dealings with a corrupt fundraiser, which the senator from Illinois has described as a "boneheaded" mistake.

The facts are generally accurate, though some of the ad's insinuations are not. Tony Rezko was an Obama fundraiser, and when Obama and his wife bought their Chicago home in 2005 for $1.65 million, Rezko's wife bought an adjacent side lot for $625,000. Months later, the Obamas bought a small part of that lot for $104,000. Viewers of the ad may not realize, however, that Rezko was not under investigation at the time.

As a state senator, Obama did write letters to officials supporting a $14 million Rezko bid to build senior citizen housing, but he was not the decision-maker. While the ad features a Chicago Sun-Times headline --"Obama Surfaces in Rezko Case"-- he was tangential to the testimony and had no connection to the fraud and money-laundering charges on which Rezko was convicted in June.

The McCain spot, marked by ominous music, was released yesterday hours after an Obama commercial chided the senator from Arizona for failing to remember that he owns seven houses. The counterattack ad attempts to shift the focus from McCain's wealth to Obama's judgment by reviving a controversy that was fully aired during the primaries.

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