Final Presidential Debate: Obama Says He's Ready for Ayers Attack

Honoring the pre-debate tradition, Barack Obama's campaign is out with a memo on Wednesday raising the expectations for John McCain to ungodly heights. But in addition to setting the stage for tonight's affair, the Illinois Democrat did something peculiar: he allowed a peek into internal strategy.

Spokesman Bill Burton lays out -- in no small measure -- how he believes the debate will proceed.

"Just this weekend, John McCain vowed to 'whip Obama's you-know-what' at the debate," he writes, "and he's indicated that he'll use Bill Ayers to attack Barack Obama... Senator Obama is going to use the debate to discuss his plan for the economy. That's what he's been doing this entire campaign."

Such a prediction may appear, at once, over-simplistic and optimistic. But the Obama campaign has seemingly been engineering this scenario for the past week. Indeed, if John McCain brings up Ayers in tonight it may be because he was goaded into doing so.

Following the candidate's second debate, both Obama and Joe Biden chided the Republican nominee for not making the personal character attacks he made on the stump to Obama's face. Since then, however, polling data has shown voters recoiling from McCain's use of Bill Ayers in political attacks. The Arizona Republican is left in a quandary: don't bring up the former '60s radical and risk being seen as squirmy and afraid; or bring him up and get bashed by Obama for not talking about the economy.

As Burton writes: "But after two debates in which John McCain didn't mention the middle class once -- and after his campaign declared openly that they want to turn the page on talking about the economy -- the real question is not how many attacks McCain can land in the debate, but whether he can finally communicate a vision to turn this economy around."

Here is the full memo:

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