Middle East studies in the News
Barack Obama Warns of Last-ditch 'Dirty Tricks Campaign' to Scare Away Supporters [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
The Democratic candidate urged voters not to take victory for granted as he expected his opponents to launch a dirty tricks campaign to scare away voters.
Referring to previous smears and insinuations about his background and associations, the Democratic candidate said: "Don't believe for a second this election over. Don't believe for a moment that power concedes anything. It's going to get nasty in the next four days. They will throw everything at it."
Despite his healthy lead in the polls, he implored a crowd of more than 20,000 in Columbia on Friday not to forget to vote and asked them to take five friends along and "dig deep and make history".
Addressing the most recent attacks from the campaign of his rival Senator John McCain, he adopted a mocking tone. "They can't even decide what to call me. They are calling me every name in the book but they can't decide on a single angle," he said.
But his campaign is convinced that in the final, frantic four days of his historic bid to become the first black US president more slurs will be thrown his way, by Mr McCain, the Republican Party and outside groups.
In the past week Mr McCain has tried to tarnish his opponent for his association with Rashid Khalidi, who once spoke for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and is now a professor at Columbia University in New York.
He has continued to raise questions about Mr Obama's relations with William Ayers, a domestic bomber in the 1960s, also now a professor, and label Mr Obama's plans to raise taxes for the rich as "socialism".
Internet and email traffic in rumours about Mr Obama that have been circulating for a year appear to have risen as the election nears.
These include claims that he is a Muslim, does not have a US birth certificate and resembles the anti-Christ. The latter and most outlandish slander is based on Chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation presaging the end of the world.
A poll for the Houston Chronicle meanwhile found that 23 per cent of Texans thought Mr Obama follows Islam, when his late Kenyan father was a non-practising Muslim.
Among his supporters in Missouri, and elsewhere, there is, amid excitement, worry that something go wrong on election day.
They fear the scare tactics and latent racism could give voters cold feet at the last minute.
"I am so hopeful, but I worry about it, I worry about it," said Barbara Schneider, an administration director at the University of Missouri, where Mr Obama's stage was decorated with pumpkins and bales of hay on the eve of Halloween.
"He is a wonderful guy and he could bring us real change. But I can only hope people will come through and actually vote for him," added Mrs Schneider. "They are attacking him and they are trying to scare people and tell people he is something to be afraid of."
"They are calling him socialist but that's ridiculous. I'm afraid some of the people who listen to that kind of stuff don't even understand what socialism is."
Sherry McBride, an African-American librarian, said: "We just have to accept some people are just not up for this. It's like a sports game. It could turn around at the last minute."
It is standard election politics not to look cocky, not least because voters hate being taken for granted. Yet the tone of Mr Obama's argument suggests he is going beyond playing it safe.
For a range of reasons – the slippery nature of polls, the narrowness of the Democrats' losses to George W Bush, the unknown effect of a biracial candidate, the desire not to jinx himself – Mr Obama will make a determined effort in the last days of a nearly two year campaign to make sure his lead in the polls is translated into victory.
David Axelrod, his chief strategist, said: "The great thing about having run for 21 months is we know from hard experience that you shouldn't take anything for granted."
"We've been ahead and we've been behind," he said. "Sometimes we've assumed that when we're ahead – New Hampshire is a big example – that it guarantees something. It doesn't."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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