McCain Ready to Truth-Squad
By Juliet Eilperin
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Hoping to fend off the kind of campaign loss they suffered in 2000, advisers to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have formed a Truth Squad to counter any sort of negative attacks they may face in South Carolina, which could determine McCain's shot at the GOP presidential nomination.
McCain's aides expect he will win here in New Hampshire today, just as he did eight years ago. But his 2000 New Hampshire victory was quickly erased once the contest shifted to the Palmetto State, when backers of George W. Bush circulated rumors, including that McCain had fathered an illegitimate child. In a statement, several senior South Carolina elected officials said they would quickly respond to any such aspersions.
"We saw what happened in Iowa with the negative attacks. We see what's happening in New Hampshire, and I can tell you for certain, we won't stand for it here in South Carolina," said Adjutant General Stan Spears. "Some candidates are spending more of their campaign war chests on telling voters why John McCain shouldn't be president rather than telling voters why they should. Voters in South Carolina need to be on the lookout for these kinds of negative attacks."
The South Carolina contingent -- which will issue statements to voters as well as be available to comment to the media -- will include Spears, Attorney General Henry McMaster, House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Seventh Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy.
"Our goal is to set the record straight," McMaster said. "As soon as one of these negative attack ads goes up on the air or hits the mailboxes, we'll let the voters know the truth. Hopefully candidates will have learned, given what happened in Iowa, that negative campaigning just doesn't work. But, just in case, we'll be ready."
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