I just watched a segment on Hannity and Colmes with guest, Jack Kemp (economic advisor to John McCain). Colmes kept asking if he thought Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers were legitimate issues for the Democratic primary campaign. Kemp tried to blow by those issues and actually talk about economic policy.
Colmes was trying to appear as if he was in favor of focusing on policy issues rather than personality issues, yet when his guest veered off the personality issues, he dragged him back in.
Here's the game. The Democrats can't win the general election on a platform of higher taxes, protectionism and surrender in Iraq. It plays well with the left, but they'd rather talk about something else in the general election campaign. How do you do that? You try to get the other side to join in the mudslinging, then denounce them for doing so. The idea is to create an image of your opponent as a petty "politics as usual" candidate and yourself as being above that. Keep it to generalities. Don't give them a forum for specifics or for pointing out policy differences.
So far all the mudslinging is going from left to other left. Eventually, the Democrat candidate will rewrite history and claim that all the political shenanagans were slung from the right. They'll also try to get him involved in the "So and so said this today, how do you respond?" game.
This will be a good test of McCain's judgment. Will he take the bait? Smarter guys than him have.