McCain Attack Ad Makes an Issue of Iran
By Juliet Eilperin
Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) campaign unveiled a new attack ad questioning Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) foreign policy credentials, which starts today on national cable, in Denver and in scattered markets throughout the country.
The ad, which takes selected phrases from remarks the presumptive Democratic nominee made on May 18 in Pendleton, Ore., implies that Obama doesn't take Iran seriously.
"Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism," the narrator intones. "Developing nuclear capabilities to 'generate power' but threatening to eliminate Israel."
"Obama says Iran is a 'tiny' country, 'doesn't pose a serious threat,'" he continues. "Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren't 'serious threats'? Obama -- dangerously unprepared to be president."
The ad clearly takes what Obama was saying out of context, since the Democrat was not addressing Iran's policy on Israel or nuclear weapons when he made the comments. Instead, he was defending his controversial proposal to personally meet with Iran's leaders, comparing the situation to how President John F. Kennedy met with then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during the height of the Cold War.
"I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us," Obama said at the time. "And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we're going to wipe you off the planet."
Liberals are already criticizing the commercial as unfounded: Ilan Goldenberg, policy director of the National Security Network, posted a blog entry on his group's Web site noting that McCain has spoken of bombing Iran and taking a more confrontational approach to Russia.
"I think it's time to take the gloves off and paint McCain as the reckless and dangerous overeager warrior that he is," Goldenberg wrote.
Criticism or not, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds wrote in an e-mail that the "Tiny" ad would appear "in select markets" in Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri, in addition to airing in Denver and on cable stations nationwide.
The Obama campaign responded with a "a fact check of the false claims" in the ad. "John McCain is distorting Barack Obama's words to cover up for the fact that it's the failed Bush-McCain approach to foreign policy and the Bush-McCain war in Iraq that have strengthened Iran and endangered Israel," said Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan in a statement. "While Barack Obama recognizes that Iran has been the biggest beneficiary of the war in Iraq and that the Bush-McCain fear of tough diplomacy has allowed Iran to spin 3800 centrifuges, threaten Israel, and fund terrorism, John McCain promises more of the same. If John McCain was serious about dealing with the threat from Iran, he would join Barack Obama's bipartisan effort in the Senate to step up sanctions on Iran instead of adopting the same tired, old Bush-Rove playbook."
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