Washington, DC - Although McCain promised "a respectful campaign," now that his campaign is in trouble McCain has embraced the divisive tactics he once denounced. The McCain campaign's steady stream of false negative attacks has been met by criticism from all sides - from major media outlets fact-checking his ads to Republican strategists condemning his aggressive negativity. Yet all signs point to McCain continuing on his negative course, unhampered by facts - and guided by a "Who's Who" of former Bush-Rove advisers.
McCain's recent statements were described as "scurrilous" and "desperate" by Joe Klein in TIME, and the New York Times characterized his attacks as "sophomoric" and "false." Fact-checks and coverage of his ads found them "false" and, in the words of USA Today, "baloney." Former McCain strategist John Weaver even called McCain's latest ad "childish" and warned that his new negative course "reduces McCain."
Americans can expect more of the same from McCain, who has embraced Bush adviser Karl Rove and his over-the-top negative tactics. The Washington Post reported that McCain is taking on "the aggressive, take-no-prisoners style of Karl Rove" while the New York Times printed that McCain has "wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove's low-minded and uncivil playbook." The Houston Chronicle described McCain's new negative tactics as "strikingly reminiscent" of Bush's 2004 campaign.
While Americans are looking for change, McCain is offering more of the same failed Bush policies and the same old Rove politics. As the McCain campaign gets further and further from his promise of a "respectful" campaign, they're proving just how out of touch McCain is with Americans -- and how far he is from being the change the country needs.
MCCAIN'S TRIP DOWN THE LOW ROAD
McCain Promises "A Respectful Campaign." As reported by CNN, "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]
- McCain's Allies Thrown by Negative Tactics. The intensity of the recent drive -- which has included some assertions from the McCain campaign that have been widely dismissed as misleading -- has surprised even some allies of McCain, who has frequently spoken about the need for civility in politics. The sentiment seeped onto television on Wednesday with Andrea Tantaros, a Republican strategist, saying on MSNBC that the use of Hilton in McCain's commercial was "absurd and juvenile," and that he should spend more time promoting his own agenda. [Houston Chronicle, 7/30/08]
- McCain Hired Bush Campaign Operatives, Went Negative. "On July 3, news reports said Senator John McCain, worried that he might lose the election before it truly started, opened his doors to disciples of Karl Rove from the 2004 campaign and the Bush White House. Less than a month later, the results are on full display. The candidate who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove's low-minded and uncivil playbook…Mr. McCain used to pride himself on being above this ugly brand of politics, which killed his own 2000 presidential bid. But he clearly tossed his inhibitions aside earlier this month when he put day-to-day management of his campaign in the hands of one acolyte of Mr. Rove and gave top positions to two others. The résumés of the new team's members included stints in Mr. Bush's White House and in his 2004 re-election campaign, one of the most negative and divisive in memory." [New York Times, 7/30/08]
- McCain Campaign Goes Aggressively Negative. As reported by the New York Times, "The old happy warrior side of Mr. McCain has been eclipsed a bit lately by a much more aggressive, and more negative, Mr. McCain who hammers Mr. Obama repeatedly on policy differences, experience and trustworthiness." [New York Times, 7/30/08]
- Republicans Express Concern about McCain's Negative Campaigning. As reported by the New York Times, "Mr. McCain is clearly trying to sow doubts about his younger opponent, and bring him down a peg or two. But some Republicans worry that by going negative so early, and initiating so many of the attacks himself rather than leaving them to others, Mr. McCain risks coming across as angry or partisan in a way that could turn off some independents who have been attracted by his calls for respectful campaigning." [New York Times, 7/30/08]
- McCain Goes Back on Promise of Positive, Releases "Troops" Ad and Attack. For four days, Sen. John McCain and his allies have accused Sen. Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true. The attacks are part of a newly aggressive McCain operation whose aim is to portray the Democratic presidential candidate as a craven politician more interested in his image than in ailing soldiers, a senior McCain adviser said. They come despite repeated pledges by the Republican that he will never question his rival's patriotism. [Washington Post, 7/29/08]
MCCAIN'S APPRECIATION OF ROVE
McCain Embraces Rove-Style Politics. As Election Day nears, McCain's campaign is adopting the aggressive, take-no-prisoners style of Karl Rove, the GOP operative who engineered victories for President Bush. The campaign continued the attack Wednesday with a sarcastic television ad deriding Obama as a "celebrity," part of an intensifying effort to cast him as an elitist." [Washington Post, 7/31/08]
McCain Adopts Rove's "Low-Minded and Uncivil Playbook." "On July 3, news reports said Senator John McCain, worried that he might lose the election before it truly started, opened his doors to disciples of Karl Rove from the 2004 campaign and the Bush White House. Less than a month later, the results are on full display. The candidate who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove's low-minded and uncivil playbook." [New York Times, 7/30/08]
McCain Would Be "Glad" To Receive Rove's Advice. "Listen, nobody denies he's one of the smartest political minds in America. I'd be glad to get his advice. I get advice from a lot of people. I'd be happy to have his advice. He beat me, I certainly would be glad to get his advice. I don't think I'd want to revisit how he did it. And I mean that -- I mean that -- I don't feel like reliving my defeat." [CNN, 2/9/08]
McCain on Rove's Aggressive Tactics. "I've always respected Karl Rove as one of the great smart political minds in American politics. I've always respected him. We never had any ill will after the initial South Carolina thing, after we had the meeting with President Bush. We moved on. I've seen Karl Rove many times when I've been over at the White House. We've always had pleasant conversations. It's not so much whether I approve of his tactics or not. It's that he had a very good, great political mind. And any information or advice and counsel he can give us, I'd be glad to have. I don't think anybody denies his talents. So I'd be glad to get any advice and council. We would obviously decide whether to accept it or not." [CNN, 2/9/08]