Campaign Characters on Post-Election Media Tour

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The election has come and gone, but stories from the hotly contested campaign remain near the top of the media rotation, right under the cratering U.S. economy and speculation about Barack Obama’s cabinet.

William Ayers, erstwhile bomb-builder and now pillar of the Chicago community, will break his silence on ABC’s Good Morning America. Anchor Chris Cuomo will conduct the interview live in GMA’s New York studios Friday morning during the show’s 7 a.m. half hour.

Obama’s connection with Ayers – they served on a charity board together, Ayers hosted an event for Obama when Obama was running for the Illinois state senate – became Exhibit A in Sarah Palin’s stump arguments decrying the now president-elect’s anti-Americanism and shifty collection of pals.

Ayers, a public education reformer, is the Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The McCain campaign also attempted to use Obama’s connection to another academic, Rashid Khalidi, to fan insular sentiment. Khalidi, is currently the Edward Said Professor of Arad Studies at Columbia University and the Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Obama was friendly with Khalidi and his wife and attended a 2003 farewell banquet for Khalidi when he was leaving the University of Chicago for Columbia.

To date Khalidi has not agreed to sit for a post-election television interrogation.

Leaks from frustrated McCain aids alleging Palin’s clashes with McCain loyalists, her rogue behavior on the trail and desire to make her own Election Night speech (highly unusual, some would say inappropriate), plus additional tidbits about her temperament, familiarity with geography and global policy and her shopping habits, spurred Palin’s post-election I-am-not-a-shopaholic media tour. Over three days earlier this week she appeared on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren, on NBC with Matt Lauer and on CNN with Larry King.

Palin’s lap on the media circuit began before John McCain made his own premiere post-election appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

So far, the real McCain staffers leaking unflattering details about Palin have not sought their own 15 minutes of TV fame. But the pranksters (and aspiring screenwriters) who created “McCain policy advisor” Martin Eisenstadt – who was credited on MSNBC and in The New Republic for being the source of the claim that Palin did not know that Africa is a continent, not a country – have emerged from behind their ruse.

Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish gave an interview to the New York Times. Surely television is next.

But Joe the Plumber (real name: Samuel Wurzelbacher), another character in the McCain campaign, has mostly fallen from the radar post-election – despite acquiring the services of a Nashville publicity firm to jump start a country-music recording career. However, if Wurzelbacher’s brush with fame and public scrutiny has precipitated invasions into his privacy by various Ohio officials, it may have also helped him avoid a moving violation near his home in Toledo. The Associated Press reported that Wurzelbacher was stopped for speeding days prior to the election but the officer declined to issue a ticket because the department was already in hot water for looking up Wurzelbacher’s address on a state computer database.

Bill O’Reilly meanwhile is doing his part to keep the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. in the spotlight. The Fox News pundit has extended an open invitation to Obama’s former pastor to appear on The O’Reilly Factor. One of O’Reilly’s producers caught up with Wright this week in Connecticut but Wright declined to slow down for a chat. He did allow that the election results were “wonderful” before disappearing into what looked like the back door of a church.

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