ABC's George Stephanopoulos clearly had John McCain's houses on his mind Sunday, for during the latest installment of "This Week," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's real estate holdings were discussed with every guest.
What Stephanopoulos may not have expected was Time's Mark Halperin claiming that "this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates, but it's Barack Obama."
Adding delicious insult to injury, much to Democrat strategist Donna Brazile's dismay, Halperin saw the Obama campaign's attack on McCain not knowing how many houses he owns as opening the door for the Arizona senator to bring up the Illinois senator's connections to Tony Rezko, Reverend Wright, and William Ayers (video embedded right, partial transcript follows):
MARK HALPERIN, TIME MAGAZINE: My hunch is that this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates, but it's Barack Obama.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Why?
HALPERIN: I believe this has opened the door to not just to Tony Rezko and that ad, but to bring up Reverend Wright, to bring up his relationship with Bill Ayers. I think if the Obama campaign aggressively jumped on something --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Don't you think that was going to come up anyway?
HALPERIN: I think it would have been hard for John McCain given the way he says he's going to run this campaign to do all of this stuff without the door being opened. There was no criticism from the press and the chattering class of coming back with that Rezko ad. We're going to see it not from McCain, but his supporters. Tony Rezko more, Ayers more. There's already an Ayers ad on. If the debate in this election is about people in the past --
STEPHANOPOULOS: You should explain who Ayers is.
HALPERIN: William Ayers is now a professor in Chicago but is a former radical --
GEORGE WILL: Former terrorist.
HALPERIN: -- who committed a violent act --
COKIE ROBERTS: He and Barack Obama --
DONNA BRAZILE: Obama was 8 years old --
HALPERIN: Barack Obama, but he was in a professional association with him and some Americans will find, I believe his failure to fully repudiate him to be, to be --
BRAZILE: But, you know, if we go down that road the Democrats are clearly prepared to bring up the Keating five. If we want to bring back the past --
HALPERIN: But Donna, would you rather the election be about Ayers versus Keating or about the economy and George Bush?
BRAZILE: I would rather it be about the economy and George Bush.
HALPERIN: Right, and I'm saying that this attack, this aggressive attack, opens the door to making this about who do you trust, who do you not.
BRAZILE: But if Obama does not attack back, if he does not fight and does not stop these character attacks then people will come away with the impression that he will not fight for them. So he has to attack back.
HALPERIN: But it started with the Obama campaign filled with machismo and aggressiveness saying, "We're going to not, we're going to make this week not about" --
BRAZILE: Are you saying the Obama campaign started with the attacks?
ROBERTS: But the housing is about the economy. It's a metaphor for the economy and it's a way of saying that he says the economic times are good and they've been bad under George Bush say the Democrats. This is just a way of getting at that issue in a way that voters can relate to.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How is this attack worse than saying someone would rather lose a war in order to win a campaign?
HALPERIN: As you made clear on this show that was a pretty serious personal attack for which he paid I think less of a price --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's why I'm having a little just trouble following your argument then. How is this the seminal event? This attack. It seems that all of this stuff has been on the table and is going to continue to be.
HALPERIN: Because the style now, the tone of it, is you can do, you can bring up anything you want.
I'm verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.