The Green Zone
Swift Boat Funders Go Their Separate Ways
By Matthew Mosk
ST. PAUL -- From one Texas billionaire to another, there was just a touch of admiration.
T. Boone Pickens, the oilman who roamed the Republican convention hall today peddling his plan to end dependence on foreign oil, said he had deep respect for his friend, Harold Simmons, and his effort to plaster the airwaves with television attack ads linking Democrat Barack Obama and former domestic radical and Weathermen member William Ayers.
Four years ago Simmons and Pickens worked together on the Swift Boat ads that helped sink Democrat John Kerry's bid for president. The two met a few months ago in Simmons's office to contemplate a similar campaign this time around, Pickens said in an interview.
"I met with those guys and they wanted me to get in. There were six of us in Harold's office, and I told them, 'I'm not in the game this year,'" Pickens recalled. "Every one of them said do what you need to. There were no hard feelings."
Simmons went ahead with his advertising project, spending $2.88 million through a group called the American Issues Project to air an ad that raises questions about Obama's relationship with Ayers. The 60-second spot is playing in Ohio and Michigan, two swing states where Obama and John McCain are running close in the polls.
"He's doing what he thinks is best for America," Pickens said. "You've got to admire him for that."
But that's not Pickens's plan this time around. He has now visited both the Democratic and Republican conventions, and he won't pick sides in the election this fall.
"When I said I was out, I meant it," Pickens said.
Posted at 9:03 PM ET on Sep 3, 2008
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