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"The ad hominem fallacy basically attacks a person's character and motives instead of debating the issue. John McCainused this fallacy when he said "Obama and his cronies ..." When people hear this they think: "Hey, Obama has cronies. He must be a bad dude.""

The issue is the candidate. So attacking your opponent in an election campaign is speaking directly to the issue. The presidential debates are largely about issues, but the point is to decide which guy to vote for.

In fact I see very little of the ad hominem fallacy in election campaigns. There are plenty of attacks on candidates, but few of them are launched with the purpose of winning a debate about an issue. I hear a lot of :

"Obama pals around with terrorists; don't vote for him",

and very little of:

"Only people who pal around with terrorists would support the kind of tax increases that Obama wants."

Obama is making a much stronger case than mere correlation here. He is asserting that the current situation is the result of previous policies, which is at least plausible. It is up to us to decide if his case is valid, but he is not simply arguing from correlation.

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