This might be as close as we get to an “October surprise.”

The AP is reporting that Barack Obama’s aunt — the one that is living in public housing in Boston — is an illegal alien.

Of course, the Obama camp’s first response was to say that they knew nothing about her status, and to immediately return her $260 donation.  Their second response was to suggest that this was all just a Republican plot.

Truth is, someone at the INS must have leaked her deportation case to the AP; I’m not sure how else this could have surfaced at the last minute.

What will the political fallout be? This isn’t a blockbuster like Bush’s DWI or Cap Weinberger’s indictment, but it will be a 48 hour distraction for the Obama campaign.   I think it’ll raise the larger question for some voters: why would Obama allow his aunt to live in poverty?  You’d think he would have helped her out public housing, but evidently not.

In the end it may contribute to some further tightening of the polls, especially in the key battlegrounds states.  Seems like McCain had been picking up a little bit of momentum over the past few days with the ‘redistribution of wealth’ stuff, and this could juice that ‘mo’ a bit more.

Politics Obama’s aunt an illegal alien — the “October surprise”?