Another week of bad news, bad reviews and campaign chaos for the McCain campaign. The only change: the campaign's increasingly desperate response.
In what has become a recurring theme, McCain's week was dominated by foreign policy gaffes, misleading attacks, terrible reviews and new polls showing him lagging far behind among key groups of voters. Instead of addressing those challenges, the McCain campaign chose to lash out at the media and launch desperate new attacks. Despite starting his general election campaign by pledging "to conduct a respectful campaign" and run "the most positive kind of campaign," McCain has resorted to the kind of negative attacks that would make even Karl Rove blush--capped off with McCain himself questioning Senator Obama's patriotism.
As observers noted, McCain's new line of attack "smacks of desperation," "undermines his brand" and makes him look "bitter to the point of nasty." Said Howard Fineman: "hard to imagine things looking much bleaker."
MCCAIN'S CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES MORE DESPERATE NEGATIVE ATTACKS
McCain Ad Claiming Obama Is Responsible For Rising Gas Prices Is "Nonsense… Absurd." FactCheck.Org wrote, "A Full Tank of Nonsense: McCain ad says Obama's the guy to thank for emptying our wallets at the filling station. We say that's ridiculous. McCain's new ad accuses Obama of keeping gas prices high, all by himself. That's absurd, and McCain knows it - he has said repeatedly that our current problems were '30 years in the making.' The ad also tells us that gas prices are high because 'some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America.' Not true. The federal government's estimate is that if the moratorium on offshore drilling were lifted today, it would be 2030 before we'd see a noticeable effect on supply and prices. For the same reason, it's simply not true that drilling more now will 'rescue our family budgets.'" [Fact Check.Org, 7/22/08]
McCain Ad Claiming Obama Voted Against Troop Funding Is "Oversimplified To The Point Of Being Seriously Misleading." FactCheck.Org wrote, "Prior to the sole 2007 vote cited by the McCain campaign as justification for this ad, Obama voted for all war-funding bills that had come before the Senate since 2005, when he was sworn in. So did all other Senate Democrats, except for a few absences. As recently as April 2007, Obama voted in favor of funding U.S. troops again, but this time Democrats added a non-binding call to withdraw them from Iraq. McCain (who was absent for the vote) urged the president to veto that funding measure, because of the withdrawal language. President Bush did veto it, and McCain applauded Bush's veto. Based on those facts, it would be literally true to say that 'McCain urged a veto of funding for our troops.' But that would be oversimplified to the point of being seriously misleading, which is exactly the problem with McCain's ad. Furthermore, by saying that 'John McCain has always supported our troops,' the ad insinuates that Obama doesn't. But funding a war and supporting troops are not necessarily the same thing. If they were, we'd reiterate our point above, that both men expressed a willingness to see a war-funding bill killed unless it met their conditions." [FactCheck.Org, 7/22/08]
McCain Said That "Obama Would Rather Lose A War In Order To Win A Political Campaign"; Time Columnist Joe Klein Wrote That That Is The Most "Scurrilous Statement" He's Ever Seen, "Smacks Of Desperation" And "Renews Questions About Whether McCain Has The Right Temperament For The Presidency." "John McCain said this today in Rochester, New Hampshire: 'This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.' This is the ninth presidential campaign I've covered. I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad." [Joe Klein, Time Magazine, 7/22/08]
McCain Web Ad Falsely Linked Obama To Castro. The Politico noted that a new McCain web ad displays side-by-side photos of Obama and Fidel Castro, with the caption: "FIDEL CASTRO Thinks he [Obama] is 'the most advanced candidate.'" [Politico, 7/24/08]
McCain Adviser Said That The Obama Campaign's Attempt To Point Out That McCain Had His Facts Wrong On The Anbar Awakening Undermines "The American Troops And Their Sacrifice And Their Effort." According to Talking Points Memo, "Now we have a McCain surrogate explaining away McCain's flubbing of the Anbar Awakening and surge timing by saying that asking for the truth about Iraq undermines the troops." McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer said "Barack Obama and his supporters can try to litigate what came first or what was crucial, but that's really an attempt to undermine the significance and the impact of the American troops and their sacrifice and their effort." [Talking Points Memo, 7/23/08]
The McCain Campaign Implied That Obama's Commitment To Preventing Genocide Was Not Sincere And Attacked Him For His Comments At An Appearance At The Israeli Holocaust Memorial. "The McCain campaign implied on Wednesday that Barack Obama's commitment to preventing a future genocide was not sincere, attacking the Democratic candidate during his appearance at the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem. In an early morning press release, entitled Obama on Genocide," McCain aide Tucker Bounds emailed reporters a quote from Obama's appearance in which the Illinois Democrat reiterated the cry "never again." He followed that quote with one taken a year ago from an interview that the Senator gave with the Associated Press in which he said that genocide or humanitarian crises were not a prerequisite for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq." [Huffington Post, 7/23/08; McCain release, 7/23/08]
McCain Said Obama Has The "Most Extreme" Record In The Senate And When Asked If He Though McCain Was A Socialist, Said "I Don't Know." McCain said Obama had the "most extreme" record in the Senate. Asked later if he thought Obama was an extremist, McCain said: "His voting record … is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont." Does McCain think Obama is a socialist? "I don't know. All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by." [Kansas City Star, 7/18/08]
McCain Aides Said They Have Every Intention Of Continuing Their Attacks On Obama On His Overseas Trip. "Senator John McCain tends to follow the old adage 'politics ends at the water's edge,' but his aides tell CNN they have every intention of continuing their attacks on Obama while the presumptive Democratic nominee is on his overseas trip." [CNN, 7/19/08]
FLASHBACK: MCCAIN PLEDGED TO RUN A POSITIVE AND RESEPCTFUL CAMPAIGN
McCain Said "I Want The Best Kind Of Campaign And Most Positive Kind Of Campaign." McCain, on the NC GOP ads attacking Rev. Wright, said "Voters can take into account any issue they feel Is relevant to themselves; I certainly have no control over that. But I have my agenda, and I think this ad is offensive to some and I would like it taken down. I want the best kind of campaign and most positive kind of campaign. McCain reiterated that he can't control the N.C. GOP, but he can ask them to take it down." [National Review, 4/25/08]
McCain: "I Have Pledged To Conduct A Respectful Campaign." McCain: "I have pledged to conduct a respectful campaign. And I have urged, time after time, various entities within the Republican Party to also do that." [CNN, 4/28/08]
MORE BAD REVIEWS
Klein: McCain Attack "Smacks of Desperation." "This is the ninth presidential campaign I've covered. I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad." [Time, Swampland Blog, 7/22/08]
Slate: McCain's Indiscriminate Attacks Distracting Him From Making His Case. "McCain is attacking too much and indiscriminately. The barrage undermines his brand, takes time away from telling voters what he might do for them, and looks awfully old-timey in a year when voters want a new brand. … The gas-prices ad--and the equally disingenuous one on tax cuts--dismantles [his] reputation. In 2000, McCain said that spinning is lying. By that standard, these claims are what? Double-lying. Super lying?" [Slate, 7/22/08]
Fineman: "Hard to Imagine Things Looking Much Bleaker." "McCain needs all the pluck (and luck) he can muster to win this presidential race. As Barack Obama embarks on his global coronation tour, it's hard to imagine things looking much bleaker for his Republican rival. McCain thought that by baiting Obama into a tour of Iraq, he'd lure the Democratic contender into a trap. Indeed it was a trap -- for McCain." [MSNBC, 7/22/08]
New York Times: McCain is Getting Coverage--Its Just Bad Coverage. "It wasn't a television blackout of John McCain; it was worse: split-screen contrasts that at times made it seem as if Barack Obama was on a state visit while back home his opponent chafed at the perks and privileges of an incumbent commander in chief…McCain aides haven't been nearly as creative on his behalf: their stagecraft has been notably unflattering to the candidate. While Mr. Obama was shown striding across military tarmacs and inspecting troops standing at attention, Mr. McCain on Monday was seen being driven around in a golf cart by former President George Bush in the resort town of Kennebunkport, Me. Later, the two men spoke to reporters side by side at a waterfront, and they looked more like fellow members of a Past Presidents' Club than a party elder passing the torch to his political heir." [New York Times, 7/23/08]
Michael Crowley: McCain Looks "Stiff, Uncomfortable," "Bitter to the Point of Nasty." "I can hardly believe how badly John McCain is getting routed in the television-imagery game. As Obama saunters through the Middle East, looking cool and relaxed, McCain has been holding events where he looks stiff, uncomfortable, and, in his bracing claim today that Obama would lose a war to win an election, sounding bitter to the point of nasty." [New Republic, The Stump blog, 7/22/08]