John Broder and Elisabeth Bumiller teamed up for Thursday morning's "McCain and Obama Trade Jabs on Al Qaeda in Iraq." In a replay of a Times attack from yesterday, thepaper criticized a conservative group's use of Barack Obama's middle name and tried to goad John McCain into another apology.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Republican officials defended a press release issued Monday that said Mr. Obama was anti-Israel and was supported by anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan, founder of the Nation of Islam. The release uses Mr. Obama's middle name, Hussein, and includes the widely distributed photo of Mr. Obama in native Somali garb on a trip to Africa in 2006.
Mr. Obama, responding to a question at Tuesday's debate, rejected Mr. Farrakhan's support and proclaimed his support for Israel.
Bill Hobbs, spokesman for the Tennessee Republican Party, said the party issued the release because "Barack Obama has surrounded himself with people who do not have the best interests of Israel at heart." He said the party had gotten complaints from Democrats and some Republicans, but had not heard from the McCain campaign.
Mr. McCain said he could not control the activities of such groups until he was the nominee.
As TimesWatch demonstrated, columnists for the paper have used Barack Obama's full name on several occasions, making it hard for the paper to credibly attack conservative groups or opinion-makers for doing the same.