Over the past few days, the presidential campaign has become even more negative.  Now, hot on the heels of the Senator Barack Obama campaign’s announcement that they would play up Senator John McCain’s part in the Keating Five, Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic reports that McCain’s campaign has a new target: Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi.

For several years, Khalidi has been a controversial figure both at Columbia and in New York City for his views on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Before coming to Columbia in 2004, Khalidi knew Obama during the latter’s years in local Chicago government, which overlapped with Khalidi’s time the University of Chicago. Khalidi and his wife held a fundraiser for Obama in 2000, and Obama spoke at a goodbye party for Khalidi in 2003.  The relationship has already drawn enough questions on the internet to merit several citations in Khalidi’s Wikipedia article, but this is the first time that the McCain campaign plans to mention it.

As for the substance of the attack, Ambinder writes that the McCain campaign will try to paint Khalidi as a former Palestine Liberation Organization spokesperson, a charge that has been made several times before, with little evidence to back it up. Khalidi denies ever having been a spokesperson, though he was an advisor at the Madrid Conference of 1991.