WASHINGTON -- With more polls trending in Barack Obama's direction and with his lead over John McCain growing, the controversial Chicago 3 -- Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko -- won't likely prevent the Illinois senator from being elected president in a few weeks.
In an effort to change this trajectory, Sarah Palin on Monday invoked Ayers' name for the third day in a row, talking about Obama's connections with the former Vietnam War-era terrorist now a respected education professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
"I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country," Palin said to cheers at a Clearwater, Fla., rally.
Hillary Clinton's Democratic primary campaign at one time hoped focus on Ayers -- a Hyde Park resident who served on civic boards with Obama before he was a U.S. senator -- would swing voters her way.
Why does the McCain figure things might be different in a general election contest?
Clinton was speaking mainly to Democrats. Republicans and undecided GOP leaners just starting to pay attention may be hearing about Ayers for the first time in the closing weeks of the campaign.
The decision to be more aggressive than Clinton ever was personally and have Palin herself talking about Ayers means the story is dominating much of the mainstream news, even with the economy collapsing.
More important to the McCain camp, Ayers is part of the larger narrative the McCain team is pushing about Obama's judgment when it comes to taxes, the Iraq surge and other associations such as with the Rev. Wright, Obama's former pastor whom he finally split with last May.
A McCain adviser told me, "Ayers is not the point. The point is he doesn't tell the truth about his relationship with him, just as he doesn't tell the truth about much of his record. Can't trust him to tell the truth about where he will lead the country."