John McCain wrapped up his week by telling reporters in Florida that he thinks he is running "a very respectful campaign" and that he doesn't think his campaign "is negative in the slightest." In reality, independent organizations, Republican strategists and media observers alike have criticized him all week for taking the low road. In fact, if you're looking for the right word to sum up McCain's week, try one of these: "desperate," "dishonorable," "outright lies," "off the mark," "nasty," "the gutter," "baloney," or "baseless."
McCain may be proud of his shameful campaign tactics, but the voters expect and deserve better. Polls consistently show the American people are looking for real leadership that offers big ideas for confronting the big challenges facing our country. Since voters already agree that McCain's policies are too close to President Bush's and he has failed to offer proposals that will create jobs, provide tax relief for middle class families or help Americans stay in their homes, McCain has apparently decided that embracing the same old politics is his only path to victory. All of this from a candidate who promised to run a respectful campaign as recently as June.
The following is a brief summary of what McCain apparently thinks constitutes "a very respectful campaign."
Republican Strategists Blast McCain's Childish and Angry Campaign
You Know You're in Trouble When Karl Rove Says You Went Too Far.
John Weaver, Former McCain Adviser, Called McCain's Ad "Childish"; Said He Was Making A "Mockery" Of The Campaign. "But John Weaver, a former McCain adviser who resigned from the campaign last year, said yesterday that the ad was 'childish,' that such attacks diminish McCain, and that his campaign is a 'mockery.' 'For McCain to win in such troubled times, he needs to begin telling the American people how he intends to lead us. That McCain exists. He can inspire the country to greatness,' Weaver told the Atlantic magazine, in a comment quickly noted by the Obama campaign." [Boston Globe, 7/31/2008]
GOP Operative David Winston Criticized McCain's "Negative Personal Attacks." "David Winston, a GOP operative in Washington, argues that McCain has erred by issuing negative personal attacks. McCain should put Obama on the defensive by highlighting their policy differences on taxes, energy and national security, he said. "He's not emphasizing the contrasts that can actually help him win," Winston said." [Los Angeles Times, 7/31/2008]
Ed Rollins Said McCain Appears "Grumpy" And "Angry." "Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist, said McCain sometimes appears frustrated and angry when he talks about Obama, especially when complaining that the press does not treat him fairly. 'John needs to be the deliberate, experienced veteran and not the grumpy old man,' Rollins said. 'If he's the grumpy old man, angry that the media is not in love with him anymore because they're in love with Barack Obama, that's not going to play well with the public.'" [Chicago Tribune, 7/30/2008]
Rove: McCain Made "A Mistake." On an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes," GOP strategist Karl Rove commented on McCain's ads and said, "Yes. Look, I got to tell you, McCain made, I think, a mistake in his television ad in saying that Obama didn't go because he couldn't take cameras. You know, that's arguable." ["Hannity & Colmes," Fox News Channel, 7/30/08]
Low Road Express Off The Rails in Regional Press
A Bad Sign for the Self-Profession "Best Earned Media Candidate in the World"
Toledo Blade: McCain Claims "Dishonorable," Desperate," Vicious Nonsense." "Why, then, is the Arizona senator stumbling headlong with a largely dishonorable presidential campaign, camoufl aging his own shortcomings by fecklessly impugning his opponent's integrity and spouting what amount to outright lies? As evidence, we reference the McCain TV commercial blaming Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, for the high cost of gasoline; Mr. McCain's mendacious comment that Mr. Obama went to the gym in Germany rather than visit wounded American troops, and the even more desperate claim that his opponent would lose a war in order to win the presidency. Such vicious nonsense -- nothing more than the political equivalent of drive-by shootings -- gives the distinct impression that Mr. McCain is willing to destroy his own reputation for honor in order to save it, and win the November election himself." [Toledo Blade, 8/1/08]
Seattle Post Intelligencer: 'Straight Talk Express' Takes The Low Road. "Of late, sadly, McCain is saying goodbye to all that. The once bullish optimist is starting to come across as a churlish naysayer. McCain's presidential campaign is evolving into nonstop attacks on Sen. Barack Obama, salted with distortion and innuendo. After years as a media darling, the candidate has taken to complaining about his opponent's press coverage. What's happened? An infusion of political talent from the Bush operation: Karl Rove-trained operatives have hijacked the 'Straight Talk Express' and are driving it into the mud." [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/1/08]
St. Petersburg Times: "The Straight Talk Express has taken a nasty turn into the gutter." "The Straight Talk Express has taken a nasty turn into the gutter. Sen. John McCain has resorted to lies and distortions in what sounds like an increasingly desperate attempt to slow down Sen. Barack Obama by raising questions about his patriotism. Instead of taking the Democrat down a few notches, these baseless attacks are raising more questions about the Republican's campaign and his ability to control his temper. The most offensive line comes from McCain himself. The Arizona senator has repeated that Obama 'would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.' That is one of the more outrageous statements by a major political party candidate seeking the presidency." [St. Petersburg Times, 7/31/08]
Five Ohio Papers: 'Celebrity status' Attack Ad Misrepresents Positions. "The McCain ad's claim that Obama says 'he'll raise taxes on electricity' is based on an interview Obama gave to a San Antonio newspaper in February in which he said 'what we ought to tax is a dirty energy like coal, and, to a lesser extent, natural gas.' According to the Obama campaign, what Obama was referring to in the interview was his proposal for a cap-and-trade mechanism that would set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions, allowing entities to buy and sell rights to emit. If that is the case, McCain is criticizing Obama for a proposal that he, too, supports." [Cincinnati Enquirer, 7/31/08]
The National Press
Looks Like He Lost McCain His "Base"
Washington Post: "McCain's Ad Formula Employs Lowest Common Denominator." "Even some McCain allies have winced at the Paris/Britney spot. Republican strategist Dan Schnur, a former McCain adviser, said that 'most voters won't see the parallels between a presidential candidate and two party girls. So a legitimate point about inexperience gets lost in the appearance of name-calling.'" [Washington Post, 8/18/08]
New York Times: "Low-Road Express." "Well, that certainly didn't take long. 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". [NY Times, July 30, 2008]
U.S. News and World Report: John McCain's Negative Attacks Against Barack Obama Hit a Low Mark. "In every presidential campaign, candidates of both parties will say something over the line. Sen. John McCain has already hit a low mark." [U.S. News and World Report, July 29, 2008]
USA Today: McCain Attack Ad "Baloney," "Cheapens Campaign. More To Come?" "Even by the elastic standards of political ads, this is more than a stretch. It's baloney. It's also a marker on the path toward the kind of simplistic, counterproductive demonizing that many expect will poison the fall campaign." [USA Today, 7/29/08]
Independent fact checkers
New McCain Motto: Don't Let the Facts Get in the Way
FactCheck.org: McCain Energy, Celebrities ad "False." "McCain's new ad claims that Obama 'says he'll raise taxes on electricity.' That's false. Obama says no such thing. McCain relies on a single quote from Obama who once - and only once so far as we can find - suggested taxing 'dirty energy,' including coal and natural gas. That was in response to a reporter's suggestion that a tax on wind power could fund education. Obama isn't proposing any new tax on electricity or 'dirty energy' as part of his platform, and he never has. It's true that a coal/gas tax would raise electric rates, but so would a cap-and-trade program to restrict carbon emissions. Cap-and-trade is an idea that both McCain and Obama support, in different forms. Neither candidate characterizes cap-and-trade as a 'tax.'" [FactCheck.org, 7/30/08: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obamas_celebrity_cred.html]
FactCHeck.org: Troops Ad Based on "False" Insinuation. "McCain's facts are literally true, but his insinuation - that the visit was canceled because of the press ban or the desire for gym time - is false. In fact, Obama visited wounded troops earlier - without cameras or press - both in the U.S. and Iraq." [Fact Check.org, 7/28/08: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/snubbing_wounded_troops.html]
Washington Post: What Obama Electricity Tax? "Long answer: both McCain and Obama would make electricity derived from fossil fuels more expensive, since they're both committed to setting mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions through a cap and trade system. In fact, they would raise energy costs by the same amount over the next 12 years, since they have identical short-term emissions goals." [Washington Post, The Trail blog, 7/30/08: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/07/30/beyond_paris_hilton_questions.html]