In the final debate last night, McCain did a remarkable thing. He tried to distance himself from the negative campaign he's running while simultaneously forwarding the same inaccurate information that he's been criticized for in the past. In addition to the "2 million dollar projector" he focused on the William Ayers controversy and insisted that Ayers was a key part of the launch of Obama's career. The Chicago Tribune found the facts quite different:
*Obama's campaign really was launched when he got the backing of then state Sen. Alice Palmer (D-Chicago), who wanted him to replace her as she was planning a run for Congress. Palmer's backing gave him entrée into local influential political circles.
Obama and Palmer would later have a falling out that continues to this day. Palmer changed her mind and decided to run for re-election after all. Obama got Palmer and his other rivals knocked off the ballot. Palmer ended up backing Hillary Rodham Clinton's Democratic primary bid.
*Obama's formal kick-off to announce his run for state senate was at the Hyde Park Ramada Inn on Sept. 19, 1995. Obama was introduced by Palmer in a room filled with supporters at the Ramada, fronting Lake Michigan on South Lake Shore Drive, a stroll from the Museum of Science and Industry.
*Around this time, Obama started to attend a series of coffees in the Hyde Park community where he lived, standard operating procedure for political rookies running in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Chicago.
"I was certainly (hosting) one of the first," said Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, rabbi emeritus at Chicago's KAM Isaiah Israel--located across the street from the Obama home.
"There were several every week," he recalled on Tuesday night when we spoke. "I remember what I said to him: 'Someday you are going to be vice president of the United States.' He laughed and said, 'Why not president?'''
*The Ackermans, Sam and Martha, longtime Hyde Park activists in independent Democratic politics, also held an early event for Obama in their condo on E. Hyde Park Boulevard. (They have since divorced.)
Sam Ackerman told me Tuesday when we exchanged e-mails that "as I recall, the event at Bill Ayers' house (prior to ours) was a fund-raiser for Alice's congressional campaign at which she also introduced Barack as the successor she would like to see elected."