McCain being forced to put the gloves back on?

In recent days, reports of McCain deciding to go all out and unload on Obama seem to be tempering a bit with recent news in the past 24 hours or so. McCain has been forced to try and tone down some campaign events and word is that he wants to attack Obama, however, does not want to make it personal.

Report from Yahoo News:

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Republican John McCain, the clock ticking down on a chance to narrow Democrat Barack Obama’s lead in polls, turned away Saturday from visceral attacks on his rival to pivot back toward policy differences.

McCain kept his speech in this Iowa river town focused on the economy and other policies, a striking change from just days ago when his campaign redoubled its challenge to Obama over his association with a former ’60s radical. McCain also claimed that American voters didn’t really know Obama and his own “radical” views.

But the tone at McCain’s and running mate Sarah Palin’s events during the past week had been turning toward the sour. Supporters had shouted “terrorist” and “off with his head” at the mention of Obama’s connections to former Weather Underground member William Ayers, whose group bombed federal buildings in protest of the Vietnam War when Obama was a child. The two had worked together on community projects in Chicago, and Obama has denounced Ayers’ violent past.

On Friday during a town hall-style meeting in Lakeville, Minn., a supporter told McCain that he feared what would happen if Obama were elected. McCain drew boos when he defended his rival as a “decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

In another exchange, a woman told McCain that she didn’t trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.” Shaking his head and taking the microphone from her, McCain replied: “No, ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

McCain returned to that note of civility on Saturday as his quandary became clearer: He needed to excite his party’s base without inciting them, challenge Obama while being an honorable opponent, and find a game-changing strategy for his faltering campaign without crossing the line.

Video of McCain delicately tapping this dance:

The crux of the matter:

McCain’s most serious criticism of Obama on Saturday was over health care, not character. His advisers say that they will aggressively challenge Obama’s record but will not to make it personal. The two are to meet for a third and final debate on Wednesday.

What does that mean? Does McCain consider discussing William Ayers and/or ACORN connections to be “personal” in nature? Earlier in the week his campaign seemed to indicate that McCain too would be bringing up these matters, perhaps in the debate on Wednesday.

Everyone, including myself, will be turning in on Wednesday, October 15th, to see just how far McCain is willing to go, and just how Obama handles it if he does.