More Mixed Messages from McCain?

Last night, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tried to correct some of his more, er, angry and scared supporters, ones who seem to buy into the ludicrous myth that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is some sort of Muslim Manchurian candidate.

You can read more about McCain's response HERE or Jonathan Martin from Politico has a good account HERE.

This morning in Philly, Obama thanked McCain.

"I want to acknowledge that Senator McCain tried to tone down the rhetoric yesterday at his town hall yesterday," Obama said, "and I appreciate his reminder that we can disagree while still being respectful of each other. I’ve said it before, and I'll say it again – Senator McCain has served this country with honor, he deserves our thanks for that."

This was followed by an odd response from the McCain campaign, as if the GOP senator had not last night admirably tried to calm down a bizarrely agitated crowd.

“The tone of this election is not fueling voter outrage," said McCain spox Tucker Bounds, "it’s that Americans are frustrated knowing that Barack Obama’s plans to raise taxes during a down economy and his proposal for a trillion dollars in new government spending are the absolute wrong answers to our economic crisis."

What's the reason for the mixed messages? Well, the McCain campaign has no intention of letting up on the same character attacks on Obama that have been met on the stump with angry supporters yelling "treason!" "terrorist!" and "kill him!" when McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin invoke Obama's name.

Palin yesterday in Cleveland said, "we've got to start connecting the dots between Barack Obama and some of his associations, some of the things he has done in the past, and more importantly, some of the things that he intends to do in the future, so that Americans will know clearly their choices. We'll lay this out to American voters in the next couple of days.”

They're kind of in a weird place, let's say. They want to keep attacking Obama on these "associations," but they don't want to be held responsible for the kinds of ugly reactions these attacks find on the trail from McCain-Palin supporters.

ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala, traveling with Palin, reports that a Palin supporter in Johnstown, Pa., today was holding a Curious George monkey doll on which he'd put an Obama sticker.

At a McCain event, as the crowd waited for McCain himself to arrive, Pastor Arnold Conrad of the Grace Evangelical Free Church of Davenport, Iowa, gave an invocation that included the following: "I would also pray, Lord, that  your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god—whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah—that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons.  And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens.  So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day."

You can hear the invocation -- partly with audio only and partly with video -- HERE.

- jpt

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