McCain, Obama fight rumors

Barack Obama is not a member of a socialist party. John McCain is not a foreigner. Sarah Palin is not Trig's grandmother. And Joe Biden is not dropping out of the race.

Oh, and they're not all having sordid affairs.

But it's Rumor Season again in this country, and with just days before the election, both campaigns are frantically fighting these rumors – often spreading virally on the Internet – along with a steady stream of nasty hints and allegations ranging from the questionable to the outrageous.

“With just days left to go in the campaign, it's use it or lose it time. If you're a candidate, now's the time to get it out, to sear it in voters minds just before they go to the voting booth,” said University of California Santa Cruz psychology professor Anthony Pratkanis.

The trouble with rumors, as representatives at both campaigns said, is that even refuting them means they are repeated.

“It's obviously an unfortunate development that we've seen in this election season, more than in elections past, but ultimately we trust the voters and their good sense,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.

Obama's spokesman Tommy Vietor said their strategy is to “confront these rumors head-on” with a Web site – – and to ensure precinct captains get facts to counter the “ridiculous false rumors that have swirled in this campaign.”

This year's level of rumors has been ferocious, but whisper campaigns, misinformation, and smears are as old as elections themselves.