McCain wastes no time in turning negative
The Democratic hopeful Barack Obama took his campaign to the Republican bastion of North Carolina yesterday, while his opponent, John McCain, launched the first attack ad of the presidential election.
Despite promises to stay on the higher ground, Mr McCain's commercial uses imagery to suggest that Mr Obama is a friend of America's enemies. It shows an apparently badly shaven Mr Obama looking across at the bearded face of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
It is a far cry from the candidate's pledge in April for a campaign that is more akin to a discussion among friends than a bitter clash of ideological rivals.
"We have nothing to fear from each other," he said as he reached out to disaffected Democrats. "We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, promote the general welfare and defend our ideals." As soon as Mr McCain clinched the Republican nomination his office sent out a memo calling for "a respectful campaign focused on the issues and values that are important to the American people".
That honeymoon is now a distant memory and signalling that the gloves are about to come off for the final phase of the election, Mr Obama has himself hired an opposition research expert to dig dirt on Mr McCain.