By Fran Spielman
Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter
You want to play rough? Let's get it on.
A new ad from Sen. John McCain's campaign accuses Sen. Barack Obama of being a product of the Chicago political machine. Convicted former Obama supporter Tony Rezko is among those referenced in the ad.
That was Mayor Daley's angry message to Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Tuesday about the McCain ad that smears Daley's brother in an attempt to tie Barack Obama to the "corrupt Chicago political machine."
In essence, Daley warned McCain that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. He was talking about McCain's role in the so-called "Keating Five" savings and loan scandal.
"You had the Keating Five. We had the biggest scandal in America called savings and loan. The biggest scandal. People lost their homes because of greed. And no one is inferring [wrongdoing by] Sen. McCain and the others, who were always known as the Keating Five. So, if people start throwing dirt and mud, remember it comes back and hits you right in the face," Daley said.
Was the mayor suggesting that Obama get down and dirty by running an ad that reprises McCain's role in the Keating Five?
"It would be a great ad. Remember: People lost their life savings, their own homes for a guy named Keating out of Arizona," Daley said.
"If you want to get tough in politics, I can get as tough in politics as anyone else. If you want to do that, then you basically bring yourself down. When you start throwing mud, mud is gonna be thrown at you and it's gonna be sticking," the mayor said.
The McCain ad seeks to exploit Obama's ties to four men: former U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley, the mayor's brother; convicted political fixer Tony Rezko; Illinois Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), Obama's political godfather, and Gov. Blagojevich, whose administration has been besieged by federal corruption investigations into hiring and contracts.
William Daley is identified in the ad as a "lobbyist," a role that, the mayor was quick to point out, his brother has never played.
"If they want to put me there [in the ad], fine. . . . Put me there. You don't have to put my brother Bill or my wife or anybody else. . . . Could you see an ad about Sen. McCain's wife and how wealthy they are? That would be unfair," the mayor said.
Daley said he does not believe the ad will lay a glove on Obama. In fact, he argued that what damage there is would be done to McCain.
"People look at national politics. They hold their nose and say, 'If this is what's happening -- if you have to tear the other person down -- are you worthy of that position?' . . . It degrades the whole election," Daley said.
"People get desperate in their political life. . . .My theory about politics and government [is] you build yourself up. You don't have to tear other people down. Anybody can tear people down. You [in the media] know that better than anyone else. You build 'em up and you tear 'em down. You do that all the time," he said.
Instead of diminishing himself and denigrating the office he seeks by using smear tactics, McCain would be wiser to address the meat-and-potatoes issues that are keeping voters awake at night, Daley said.
"People are smarter than the politicians. People get it. They're not worried about Wall Street. They're worried about their own pocketbook. They're worried about their own investments. They're worried about their home. They're worried about their children. They're worried about college. They're worried about their retirement. That's what they're really worried about. . . . People are much smarter than all these negative ads, which I think hurt the candidate running those ads," he said.