One of the more noteworthy responses to John McCain's massive robocall campaign tying Barack Obama to Bill Ayers has been from parents whose children have been on the receiving end of the incendiary calls.
Many have contacted the Huffngton Post detailing concerns that their kids were being told, in essence, that the possible next president of the United States associates with terrorist figures.
"My daughter answered the phone today and began listening to the most disturbing call regarding bombing and terrorists. She ran with the phone to get me, I heard just the end snippet of the call and immediately called the number cited as responsible," wrote a reader from North Carolina. "I was so angry and let them have it. I had to explain to my 7-year-old daughter that no one was bombing anyone else. This was a horrific experience."
So it was more than just a bit ironic to be reminded that during the Republican South Carolina primary in 2000 it was a distraught mother who thrust the issue of the anti-McCain robocall campaign into the national spotlight.
A reader sends over a clip from the film company "Journeyman Pictures," that replays some notable news footage from those heady political days. In it is a shot of a woman, addressing McCain at a South Carolina rally, with word of the behind-the-scenes effort to paint him as "a cheat and a liar and a fraud."
"He was so upset," she said of her 14-year-old son who had received the call. "He was almost in tears. I was so mad. I was so livid last night I couldn't sleep."
McCain, visibly shaken by the woman's testimony, denounced the tactic entirely and would later unilaterally pull all of his negative advertising.
"I really hope that people that are doing these things could have heard and seen your statement because we don't need to do this to young people," said the Senator. Outside the hall, he was even more direct: "I'm calling on my good friend George Bush to stop this now, to stop this now. I can't believe that a person from a good family such as George Bush wouldn't stop this. But if he doesn't then I will call him or I will write him or I will do whatever I can."
Eight years later, the role, in many ways, is reversed (though, to be fair, the Obama campaign has not denied that it is running negative robocalls itself). Only this time, it seems, there is a stark difference: the robocalls don't seem to be working. On Sunday, McCain's own running mate said the tactic had "irritated" people who were "just being inundated."
"If I called all the shots, and if I could wave a magic wand," said Gov. Sarah Palin, "I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls and includes spending so much money on the television ads that, I think, is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span."
Meanwhile, an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that sixty percent of voters thought Obama's relationship with Ayers was "not a legitimate issue in the presidential campaign." Thirty-seven percent said it was.
And yet, despite the criticism and evidence, McCain has stuck by the strategy that once undermined his presidential ambitions.
"These are legitimate and truthful and they are far different than the phone calls that were made about my family and about certain aspects that -- things that this is -- this is dramatically different and either you haven't -- didn't see those things in 2000," he told Fox News' Chris Wallace.