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What McCain Promised:

McCain Campaign 2000

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McCain Campaign 2008

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What they’re saying about McCain’s negative campaign

Sen. Chuck Hagel, Face the Nation
07/27/08

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Wolf Blitzer, CNN
07/27/08

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LOW ROAD UPDATE: TOP VEEP CONTENDER WEIGHS IN AGAINST JOHN MCCAIN’S TACTICS

“Say what you will about Barack Obama, people gravitate when you have something positive to say...People want to follow hopeful, optimistic, civil, decent leaders. They don’t want to follow some negative, scornful person.”
--Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at GOPAC

Speaking to Republican activists at the GOPAC meeting in Arlington today, Governor Tim Pawlenty made the case for a positive, hopeful political dialogue—the opposite of what Senator McCain and his allies have been offering. And while the top contender for the Republican Vice Presidential slot probably didn’t help his own chances, he echoed a major emerging theme in this race.

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Spring Hope (NC) Enterprise: “McCain ads petty and false”

“It is sad but telling that the presidential campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain has already slipped into the gutter before the nominating convention has even been held. It would be even sadder, considering the nation’s desperate desire and need for a change in political leadership and policy, if American voters fall for the inane, irrelevant, mean-spirited, and flatly false commercials now attacking Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama.”

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Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer-Journal: “All McCain has left is to strike at Obama’s image”

“While the midsummer timing may seem early in the election season to launch attack ads, they’re indicative of McCain’s predicament: being on the wrong side of popular opinion on just about every major issue in the campaign…All McCain has left is to strike at Obama’s image, and you can expect the attack ads to keep rolling out all summer long.”

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Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter: – “Where Have You Gone, John?”

The youthful insouciance that for many years has helped McCain charm reporters like me is now channeled into an ad that one GOP strategist labeled ‘juvenile,’ another termed ‘childish’ and McCain’s own mother called ‘stupid.’…Without some compelling vision beyond support for offshore drilling, the negativity may well boomerang. ‘It’s hard to imagine America responding to ‘small ball’ when we have all these problems,’ says John Weaver, McCain’s chief strategist in 2000 who was pushed out of the campaign last year.”

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Republicans and old advisers second-guessing” McCain’s tone

“Of course, there are risks for McCain in how he goes after Obama, with some Republicans and old advisers second-guessing the tone and content of his attacks, and worrying out loud about whether McCain is putting his vaunted personal image and nonpartisan appeal at risk by sounding negative on the stump.”

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Dayton Daily News: “John McCain’s campaign so far is a disappointment.”

“John McCain’s campaign so far is a disappointment. Once upon a time, he seemed – didn’t he? –like a guy who would resist turning to the slash-and-burn tactics associated with the likes of Karl Rove. He talked about wanting a ‘respectful’ campaign. He invited his opponent to share the stage with him at multiple events. He trashed certain kinds of charges made against Sen. Obama, such as those made by Ohio talk show host Bill Cunningham and Columbus-based preacher/activist Rod Parsley. But look at what’s happening now.”

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New York Times editorial: “Low Road Express”

“Well, that certainly didn’t take long…The candidate [John McCain] who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove’s low-minded and uncivil playbook.”

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St. Petersburg Times Editorial: “From ‘Straight Talk’ to Smear Campaign”

“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.

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CBS News Bob Schieffer: “This Is Very Unlike John McCain And The Kind Of Campaign He Said He Was Going To Run.”

On “The Early Show,” Schieffer, said, “They brought aboard a new strategist, Steve Schmidt, about a month ago. He was from the old Bush campaign team. And he’s bringing in some of the techniques that the Bush people used against John Kerry.…I mean, this is kind of a stretch to say that Barack Obama has something in common with Paris Hilton. And you have to wonder if people are going to buy that. I tell you, the other part of it is it’s very surprising. This is very unlike John McCain and the kind of campaign he said he was going to run. So maybe they will be able to define Barack Obama in their terms, but the other hand, I think there’s a high possibility that all this could blow up in their face and backfire.” [CBS, “The Early Show,” 7/31/08]

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Kurtz: “McCain’s Ad Formula Employs Lowest Common Denominator.”

“In a celebrity-driven culture that has left little space for John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate has decided to go tabloid. By featuring Paris Hilton and Britney Spears in an attack ad against Barack Obama, the senator from Arizona has risked charges of silliness to draw attention to his frequently overshadowed campaign. …Analysts questioned what message McCain was sending by interspersing footage of his Democratic opponent before a huge crowd in Berlin with that of two socialites famous for their irresponsible antics. ‘I don’t get it,’ said Ken Goldstein, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. ‘Is it valid to go after Barack Obama on inexperience, being a bit glib, perhaps even a bit arrogant for doing the European tour? Absolutely. But you just sound dopey when you put Paris Hilton in an ad.’ Shanto Iyengar, a professor of political science and communications at Stanford University, said McCain needs ‘to come up with a more affirmative narrative for his candidacy -- Why is he running? What does he stand for? -- before going after Barack Obama.’ But he added: ‘McCain has lost the free media contest over the past couple of weeks; he’s desperate to make the news, and controversial attacks are more newsworthy than boilerplate positive ads.’” [Howard Kurtz column, Washington Post, 8/1/08]

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Eugene Robinson: “So Much For St. John.”

“It’s awfully early for John McCain to be running such a desperate, ugly campaign against Barack Obama.…The latest bit of snarling, mean-spirited nonsense to come out of the McCain camp was the accusation, leveled by campaign manager Rick Davis, that Obama had ‘played the race card.’ He did so, apparently, by being black. On Wednesday, at a campaign stop in Missouri, Obama had predicted that Republicans would try to ‘make you scared of me. You know, ‘He’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name,’ you know, ‘he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.’’ So what does Davis do? He promptly tries to make voters scared of Obama by feigning outrage over the presumptive Democratic nominee’s ‘divisive, negative, shameful and wrong’ remarks….The idea is to slow Obama down before he runs away with this thing, and the weapon of choice is handfuls of mud. Remember St. John the Reformer, who promised a high-minded campaign and said he wouldn’t question his opponent’s patriotism? Clearly, he’s been replaced by an evil twin.…Negative campaigning is not a pretty thing, and it should be beneath John McCain to stoop so low.” [Eugene Robinson column, Washington Post, 8/1/08]

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Chicago Sun-Times: “McCain’s Attacks Could Make Him Look Angry, Petulant.”

In a story titled, “McCain’s attacks Could Make Him Look Angry, Petulant,” the Chicago-Sun Times asks, “John McCain’s stepped-up aggression raises the question: Will Americans vote for a scold? A new ad launched Wednesday suggests Democratic rival Barack Obama is nothing more than a lightweight celebrity akin to a Britney Spears or a Paris Hilton. McCain has suggested Obama would rather lose a war than an election and ridicules him for the ’’audacity of hopelessness’’ in his Iraq policies….But in striking an aggressive pose, McCain is in danger of letting the caricature of an angry, petulant candidate take seed, and angry candidates don’t win elections.” [Chicago-Sun Times, 8/1/08]

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Dallas Morning News: “McCain Off The Mark In Over-The-Top Ads.”

In an editorial titled, “McCain off the mark in over-the-top ads,” the Dallas Morning News said, “What, precisely, the former law professor-turned-U.S. senator has in common with celebutantes who make headlines for failing to don underwear remains an open question. Questioning Mr. Obama’s level of experience is fair game. But Mr. McCain has laid down a nasty marker, making clear that with more than three months to go, this will be ugly. A second McCain ad distorts Mr. Obama’s reasons for canceling a visit with wounded soldiers, noting that the Democrat ‘made time to go to the gym.’ (Strangely, the commercial then shows Mr. Obama shooting hoops with American troops.) Absent from both commercials is a sense of Mr. McCain’s vision, leadership or experience. In recent weeks, Mr. McCain lamentably has more often turned his attention to mocking his opponent rather than making a sustained case for his own candidacy. Mr. McCain’s tactics certainly aren’t new to politics. But such negativity is disconcerting at this early date. The summer months usually afford presidential candidates the opportunity to delve into issues and ideology….Mr. McCain does voters a disservice by creating a caricature of his opponent instead of explaining their many differences on issues. Even some Republican strategists are troubled, saying that Mr. McCain appears to be swinging wildly.” [Editorial, Dallas Morning News, 8/1/08]

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Los Angeles Times: “As John McCain Attacks, Will He Pay A Price?”

In a blog post titled “As John McCain attacks, will he pay a price?” the Los Angeles Times asks, “Given the harsh edge to this critique and recent ads the McCain team has directed at Obama, the question comes to mind: Is the presumptive Republican nominee willing to lose his good reputation within media circles and among some fellow politicos in order to win the election? As McCain and his campaign have escalated the attacks on Obama, various voices have disputed the propriety of the efforts.” [“Top of the Ticket” blog, Los Angeles Times, 7/31/08]

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Toledo Blade: “McCain Goes Negative” With “Outright Lies” And “Vicious Nonsense.”

In an editorial titled, “McCain goes negative,” the Toledo Blade asks, “Why, then, is the Arizona senator stumbling headlong with a largely dishonorable presidential campaign, camouflaging 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….In sum, Mr. McCain does himself a disservice by engaging in the politics of prevarication. He may win, but he’s discarding his own honor in the process.” [Editorial, Toledo Blade, 8/1/08]

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Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “‘Straight Talk Express’ Takes The Low Road.”

In a column titled “‘Straight Talk Express’ takes the low road,” Joel Connelly writes, “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….What happened to the McCain who pledged over and over again that he would not question opponents’ patriotism?.... It’s time to get the ‘Straight Talk Express’ back on the high road. Or as John Weaver put it, ‘For McCain’s sake, this tomfoolery needs to stop.’ And for the country’s sake.” [Joel Connelly column, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/1/08]

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Belleville News-Democrat (Illinois): “McCain Attack Ads Could Backfire.”

In an article titled “McCain attack ads could backfire,” the Belleville News-Democrat asked, “Is John McCain’s attempt to tie Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in an attack ad this week the ‘Swift boating’ of Obama? No, experts said Thursday; McCain’s recent barrage of negative ads and charges isn’t as vicious as the 2004 campaign against John Kerry. But the McCain effort, led by Karl Rove protege Steve Schmidt, has the same objective: to demonize a little-known presidential candidate….It’s a risky strategy, as McCain found when he came to this Wisconsin city Thursday for a town hall meeting. A young woman there told the Arizona senator that he’s said he didn’t want to engage in mudslinging….Voter reaction to the new attack ad was mixed. ‘To me, it hurt the campaign,’ said Dorothy Prechel, 68, a Franklin retiree. She voted for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, but is now undecided.” [Belleville News-Democrat, 8/1/08]

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Washington Veteran David Gergen: GOP Attack Ads “Diminish John McCain.”

“David Gergen, who as a political advisor has served both Democratic and Republican presidents, had this to say about the McCain airwave offensive: ‘Yes, it does diminish John McCain. He’s a much better person than these attack ads have been. ... This is not the John McCain who Americans have come to love and to respect as an individual.’” [“Top of the Ticket” blog, Los Angeles Times, 7/31/08]

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Washington Veteran David Gergen: McCain Started The Fight, “Goaded Obama.”

About Obama’s comment on how he did not look like previous presidents on dollar bills, Gergen said on CNN, “I think it’s turning into a knife fight, Wolf. And both sides, you know, the McCain side starting this fight, they’re really going after him now. They goaded Obama into this comment that I think is from -- I agree with Roland, he went too far. But it is also true that in all of the -- that in the overall Republican attacks, race has not been directly mentioned by McCain and his campaign but it’s been heavily hanging over the attacks. It’s been implicit. It’s been the subtext of that race -- race is the elephant in the room. Everybody knows that.” [CNN, “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” 7/31/08]

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Former McCain Adviser Dan Schur “Winced”: “A Legitimate Point About Inexperience Gets Losts In The Appearance Of Name-Calling.”

“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.’” [Howard Kurtz column, Washington Post, 8/1/08]

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GOP Consultant Mark Corallo: McCain Should Focus On Himself More.

“Mark Corallo, a GOP consultant who backs McCain, said the former Vietnam prisoner of war should talk more about himself. ‘Right now, what we’re getting out of Sen. McCain is a lot of attacks on Sen. Obama,’ Corallo said.” [USA Today, 8/1/08]

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Former RNC Spokeswoman Tara Wall: “I Think That Yes, It Was Probably A Little Juvenile.”

Tara Wall said on CNN about McCain’s “Celeb” ad: “I think that, yes, it was probably a little juvenile. But then again, it was funny as well. And quite frankly, Barack Obama himself had a lighthearted chuckle about it in the sense that he was very, you know, upbeat about his response to it. So, I don’t think it did too much damage in the way of being considered a negative ad.” [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 7/31/08]

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St. Petersburg Times: McCain’s “Baseless Attacks Are Raising More Questions About The Republican’s Campaign And His Ability To Control His Temper.”

“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.” [Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, 7/31/08]

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TIME’s Joe Klein: McCain’s Ad About Wounded Troops Is “Desperate,” Signals That McCain Has “Nothing Substantive To Say” About America’s Future Role In The World.

Joe Klein had this to say about McCain’s troops ad: “This is the sort of thing you put on the air when: 1. You’re desperate. 2. Your Middle East policy has been superseded by events and abandoned by your allies. 3. You apparently have nothing substantive to say about America’s future role in the region and the world. If you watched both Obama and McCain on the morning shows today, you saw one candidate who was at ease, confident but not flawless (Obama’s answer on the Surge still seems too grudging), and another who was tense and almost entirely negative. There used to be another John McCain--charming, open, unpredictable. I wonder where he went; the McCain who appeared on the air today seemed too much a scold, too little a statesman.”

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GOP Strategist: The McCain Campaign Had An Ad Prepared To Attack Obama For “Using Wounded Troops As Campaign Props” If He Had Visited The Troops.

“What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was...wait for it...using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that’s political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents -- a lie.”

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ABC News: “McCain Camp Continues Unsubstantiated Inconsistent Attacks On Obama Over Germany Trip.”

In a blog post titled “McCain Camp Continues Unsubstantiated Inconsistent Attacks On Obama Over Germany Trip,” Jake Tapper writes, “The part about wanting to bring the media is decidedly not true. There were never any plans for Obama to ‘bring media people and cameras.’ Never. The issue was, according to sources in both the Pentagon and the Obama campaign, whether Obama could bring Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration (Ret.), an adviser to his campaign. …The McCain campaign and McCain himself are not being honest in their attacks on this issue, which are inconsistent and assume facts not in evidence.” [ABC News, “Political Punch” blog, 7/30/08]

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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.”

“In recent days Senator John McCain has charged that Senator Barack Obama ‘would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign,’ tarred him as ‘Dr. No’ on energy policy and run advertisements calling him responsible for high gas prices. 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. By doing so, 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. The drumbeat of attacks could also undermine his argument that he will champion a new brand of politics.” [New York Times, 7/30/08]

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New York Times: Even The GOP Is Worried About Negative McCain.

“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. By doing so, 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.” GOP media consultant Mike Murphy noted “A pure attack tone could be perilous.” [New York Times, 7/30/08]

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New York Times Editorial: Riding The Low Road Express.

Noting that it “certainly didn’t take long,” the New York Times editorialized McCain’s switch to negative campaigning. “The candidate who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove’s low-minded and uncivil playbook. In recent weeks, Mr. McCain has been waving the flag of fear (Senator Barack Obama wants to ‘lose’ in Iraq), and issuing attacks that are sophomoric (suggesting that Mr. Obama is a socialist) and false (the presumptive Democratic nominee turned his back on wounded soldiers).” [Editorial, New York Times, 7/30/08]

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New York Times Editorial: “This Ugly Brand Of Politics” McCain Now Practices “Killed His Own 2000 Presidential Bid.”

The New York Times editorial continued: “Mr. McCain used to pride himself on being above this ugly brand of politics, which killed his own 2000 presidential bid….Mr. McCain repeatedly said Mr. Obama “would rather lose a war to win a political campaign” and that he “does not understand” what is at stake in Iraq. He also accused Mr. Obama of canceling a visit to wounded American troops in a German military hospital because news cameras were not allowed. That’s a false account of what occurred -- and Mr. McCain ignored Mr. Obama’s unheralded visit to a combat hospital in Baghdad.” [Editorial, New York Times, 7/30/08]

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Washington Post: “McCain Accuses Obama Of “Snubbing Wounded Soldiers” As Part Of “A Newly Aggressive McCain Operation.”

“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, 7/30/08]

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Washington Post: McCain Campaign: False Charge Of Not Visiting Soldiers Is “An Effective Way To Create A ‘Narrative’” Against Obama.

“McCain’s advisers said they do not intend to back down from the charge, believing it an effective way to create a ‘narrative’ about what they say is Obama’s indifference toward the military. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said again yesterday that the Republican’s version of events is correct, and that Obama canceled the visit because he was not allowed to take reporters and cameras into the hospital. ‘It is safe to say that, according to press reports, Barack Obama avoided, skipped, canceled the visit because of those reasons,’ he said. ‘We’re not making a leap here.’ Asked repeatedly for the ‘reports,’ Bounds provided three examples, none of which alleged that Obama had wanted to take members of the media to the hospital.” [Washington Post, 7/30/08]

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USA Today Editorial: “McCain Attack Ad Cheapens Campaign,” Labels It “Baloney.”

In an editorial titled “McCain attack ad cheapens campaign. More to come?” USA Today criticizes McCain’s recent ad “Pump.” “In a McCain TV ad, ‘Pump,’ that hit the airwaves and YouTube recently, a narrator ominously intones that gas prices have gone to ‘$4, $5 [with] no end in sight, because some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America. No to independence from foreign oil.’ Then the announcer asks, ‘Who can you blame for rising prices at the pump?’ A crowd chants, ‘Obama, Obama,’ and Obama’s face appears. 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….If ‘Pump’ represents the standard of truth in advertising for this presidential campaign, it’s going to be a long and distressingly fact-free three months until Election Day.” [Editorial, USA Today, 7/29/08]

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Washington Post Editorial: McCain “Falls Short Of The Standards He Set Out” With His Negative Attacks.

“Politicians say a lot of things in the heat of campaigns that they end up regretting -- or ought to regret. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, had one of those unfortunate moments the other day, when he charged that his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, ‘would rather lose the war to win a political campaign.’ Having said this once, been criticized and had a chance to think it over, Mr. McCain chose to repeat it. ‘He would rather lose a war than lose a campaign,’ Mr. McCain told the Columbus Dispatch. ‘Because anyone who fails to acknowledge that the surge has worked, who has consistently opposed it, consistently never sat down and had a briefing with General Petraeus, our commander there, would rather lose a war than a political campaign.’ Mr. McCain’s disagreement with Mr. Obama is as heartfelt as it is important. We, too, have concerns about the dangerous implications of Mr. Obama’s insistence on withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within 16 months regardless of conditions there. We, too, fault Mr. Obama’s unwillingness to acknowledge his mistake in predicting that the surge would fail. But Mr. McCain needn’t impute motives to make his points. It’s one thing to say Mr. Obama is wrong. It’s another to accuse him of putting political self-interest over country. This is not the ‘politics of civility’ that Mr. McCain was promising as recently as last month. ‘What a welcome change it would be were presidential candidates in our time to treat each other and the people they seek to lead with respect and courtesy as they discussed the great issues of the day,’ Mr. McCain wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama proposing weekly town hall meetings. With these latest comments, Mr. McCain falls short of the standards he set out.” [Editorial, Washington Post, 7/26/08]

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U.S. News & World Report’s John W. Mashek: “McCain Has Already 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. The senior senator from Arizona said his Democratic rival would ‘rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.’ What’s next, an open charge of treason?” [Mashek op-ed, US News & World Report, 7/28/08]

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U.S. News & World Report’s Gloria Border: “So Far, McCain Is Running Largely On Angry.”

“So far, McCain is running largely on angry. That is, the initial game plan of Hillary the Scold -- in which she claimed that she was the only candidate who had been ‘vetted,’ the only one who was truly ‘electable,’ the only one ready to be commander in chief. As her campaign belittled what it saw as fawning Obama press coverage, the candidate chided, ‘Shame on you, Barack Obama,’ all but sending her opponent into a corner for a timeout. McCain is clearly channeling her frustration when he declares that Obama ‘would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign,’ Ouch.” [Gloria Borger, US News & World Report, 7/29/08]

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Bob Franken: McCain’s Suggestion That Obama Is Not Patriotic Is Akin To “Swift-Boating.”

“The mugging by George W. Bush henchmen was so successful that it introduced a new term into the political lexicon: ‘Swift-Boating.’ But let’s call this what it is. It is a smear campaign. It doesn’t matter that it’s based on fabrication. It has worked. That was good enough for Bush, and it’s apparently good enough for his fellow Republican, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). How else can we explain the latest effort by members of the McCain Gang to challenge Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) patriotism? They’re basing that on Obama’s cancellation of plans, while speeding through Germany, to visit injured servicemen in a U.S. military hospital. True, the matter was badly handled and the Obama campaign should be embarrassed. This was definitely not slick. In an organization smug about its success to the point of hubris, being unslick is a mortal sin. However, this was clumsiness, not a lack of patriotism. And for John McCain and his supporters, to suggest otherwise signals a decision to utilize the thuggish smear tactics that served their Swift Boat soulmates so well the last time around.” [Bob Franken, The Hill, 7/30/08]

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Republican Strategist Andrea Tantaros Called McCain’s Negative Attack “Absurd And Juvenile.”

“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 Mr. 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 Ms. Hilton in Mr. McCain’s commercial was ‘absurd and juvenile,’ and that he should spend more time promoting his own agenda.” [New York Times, 7/31/2008]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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GOP Media Consultant Alex Castellanos Said McCain Erred In Using Negative Ad.

“Alex Castellanos, one of George W. Bush’s media mavens in 2000 and 2004, had a different take: ‘The problem is that ‘advertising’, i.e., anything that smells even faintly false, contradicts his persona,’ Castellanos said. ‘John McCain is the un-cola of politics, the anti-politician. And few things are more political than negative commercials that draw attention to themselves as ‘advertising’ designed to manipulate voters and not as ‘information’ designed to inform them. You can’t be the un-cola and Coca Cola too.’” [First Read, msnbc.com, 7/31/2008]

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Former McCain Campaign Strategist Cautioned McCain Against His Negative Campaign Tactics.

“‘The McCain campaign, I think, is being pulled in two directions,’ said Todd Harris, a Republican strategist who worked for Mr. McCain in 2000. ‘On the one hand, this race is largely a referendum on Obama, and whether or not he’s going to pass the leadership threshold in the eyes of voters. So being aggressive against Obama on questions of leadership and trust and risk are important, but at the same time I think they need to be very careful because McCain is not at his best when he is being overly partisan and negative.’” [New York Times, 7/30/2008]

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Media Consultant Mike Murphy Warned McCain Campaign About Negative “Tone.”

“Mike Murphy, a Republican media consultant who worked on Mr. McCain’s 2000 campaign, said that while the campaign needed to balance positive messages about Mr. McCain with negative ones about Mr. Obama, he thought it should ultimately be more about what Mr. McCain would do than Mr. Obama. ‘I think the campaign does have to be careful about its tone,” Mr. Murphy said. “A pure attack tone could be perilous.’” [New York Times, 7/30/2008]

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Republican Senator Chuck Hagel Said McCain “Is Treading On Some Very Thin Ground.”

“McCain also intimated that Obama skipped a visit of wounded U.S. troops in Germany last week because it would not generate sufficient publicity for his campaign, a charge that the Republican made the centerpiece of a new television ad. Obama’s call for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, McCain said, ‘was political’ and was made ‘in order to help him get the nomination of his party.’ In a different interview, McCain said that ‘Senator Obama just views this war as another political issue with which he can change positions.’… The moves puzzled some GOP strategists, who said McCain would be better off touting a more positive message, and the senator from Arizona drew a strong rebuke from a longtime ally, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who traveled with Obama last week to Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a congressional delegation. ‘I think John is treading on some very thin ground here when he impugns motives and when we start to get into ’You’re less patriotic than me. I’m more patriotic,’’ Hagel said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’” [Washington Post, 7/28/08]

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