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McCain "Truth Squad" Fights Back

Even before the Michigan primary voting ends, surrogates for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) organized a conference call with reporters to push back against an incendiary flier that was passed out to members of the South Carolina media today.

The flier, which came from a group called "Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain" and attacked the Arizona Senator's time spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was roundly condemned by a group of McCain supporters that including former P.O.W. Orson Swindle as well as South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell and state Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Harrell called the flier "absolutely despicable" and predicted it would have no negative impact on McCain's chances in the Palmetto State.

"The people of South Carolina have gotten to know John over this campaign and back in 2000 as well," said Harrell. "We know know the man, we know what he stands for....we recognize this mailing for the garbage it is."

Swindle dismissed the group as "a few very zealous conspiracy theorists" that was "intended to be harmful" to McCain's political chances in the state. The McCain campaign said the flier had been handed out to roughly 100 local journalists.

The incident is a sign of things to come for the candidates as the campaign turns to South Carolina where any number of questionable tactics were employed during the 2000 GOP presidential primary. McCain's loss in the Palmetto State eight years ago spelled the end of his campaign. In this race McCain has far more institutional support than he did in 2000 -- as evidenced by the presence of Harrell and McMaster on his team this time around.

Polling in the state shows a nip and tuck race between McCain and former governor Mike Huckabee. The tightness of the race means things will likely get uglier in South Carolina before it's all over.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 15, 2008; 7:44 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Romney Wins Michigan


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Posted by: stneqzivo rzaek | April 16, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Has everyone forgotten that McCain wants to give total AMNESTY to the illegal aliens? How about his membership in the Keating 5? the gang of 14?

McCain is no friend to Americans, and if these Vietnam Veterans are against John McCain for any reason, I want to hear what they have to say.

Benedict Arnold pushed himself as a war hero until he was exposed as a traitor.

Based on McCain's performance with the illegal amnesty plan, I would be willing to bet McCain is more traitor than hero.

Posted by: CitizenPayne | January 16, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

McCain is not above stretching the truth about his not taking Pork.
Jst go to Arizona and see all the new rads over roads over roads. There are layers of roads. Why did a lot of the big Corporations move to Arizona?
Senator McCain is less than truthful.

Posted by: dolsac3 | January 16, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Its nice to see the Republicans practicing their dirty tricks on each other. I can't wait until McCain/Romney/Huckabee/Giuliani/Thompson runs against Obama in the general election, then we'll hear how Barack Hussein Obama is really a radical Muslim who was sending nuclear secrets to Saddam, Osama, Kim Jong Il, and Iran. American politics... gotta love it.

Posted by: vfazio | January 16, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

McCain's ego driven vow to chase Osama to hell regardless of the death and destruction he leaves behind scares me! McCain has reasons to be angry, but he is TOO ANGRY to trust in the White House. I'm sorry he lost those years in Vietnam, but there is no way to regain them. As a result, McCain is also TOO OLD. His focus is TOO NARROW. But he may do some good in the Senate for a few more years.

Posted by: ALMANOJODO | January 16, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Much is made over Sen. Clinton's crying and show of emotion and whether this makes her unfit to stand up to adversaries and project her self as a strong leader.
Back in 2000 when Sen. McCain and his family were trashed by a bunch of folks right out of Deliverance. He did little to counter them and ending up contacting a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome by embracing these rubes as a means to a path to the White House. You figure a guy who endured brutal torture at the Hanoi Hilton would defend ones honor or at least use his vaulted naval boxing skills to fight back at them. Yet he is still considered to be the tough "maverick" and no one seems to question his tenacity and judgment to lead the country.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | January 16, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Hey voiceoreason,

Your post is innopropriatly long and off topic. I'm sure Romney a great guy, but your abusing this media.

Why not print a pro-Romney "flier" and release if to 100 journalist?

Posted by: locherie | January 16, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse


"We believe that Romney is a natural ally of social conservatives. He speaks often about the toll of fatherlessness in this country. He may not have thought deeply about the political dimensions of social issues until, as governor, he was confronted with the cutting edge of social liberalism. No other Republican governor had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage. He was on the right side of both issues, and those battles seem to have made him see the stakes of a broad range of public-policy issues more clearly. He will work to put abortion on a path to extinction. Whatever the process by which he got to where he is on marriage, judges, and life, we're glad he is now on our side -- and we trust him to stay there.

Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.

More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush's virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, WE VOTE MITT ROMNEY!


Given Romney's business acumen, it's no surprise he's assembled one of the most successful political money machines ever. "Romney is an incredibly aggressive and efficient fundraiser," says Vogel, who attributes it to his private-sector skills. In April, when he was still relatively unknown nationally, Romney made headlines when his campaign reported it had blown past the rest of the Republican field and raised $23 million in the first quarter!

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South Carolina and Nevada are next, Texas will be ready!! ROMNEY 2008!!

Posted by: voiceoreason | January 16, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Obviously, McCain is the toughest to beat in November, especially compared to the Mittster. But at least we'll have someone who is sane to run against, rather than the God = Constitution rantings of Huckabee. Plus, McCain is pretty awesome on the environment.

Posted by: crumbrye1 | January 16, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

This is deeply disturbing. From my political perspective, I would like John McCain to lose this primary, but there is something more important at stake.
The Swift Boaters, Ann Coulter and these guys all think it is fair game to spread lies about honored veterans as long as they can make political points out of it. They put Party above country in the most deeply offensive way. If you've stoof in the cemeteries at Normandy or Gettysburg the n you udnerstand that service to your country is not something to be distported or disdained.
John McCain, whatever else he is, is a national hero worthy of honor and respect. So are John Kerry and Max Cleland. All Americans should join in condemning these smearers.

Posted by: djah | January 16, 2008 4:00 AM | Report abuse

Thanks , LoneWacker.

Posted by: lylepink | January 16, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

"Would a smear campaign openly send fliers of this kind to journalists?"

Well... For the price of printing 100 fliers, they've reached the not insignificant audience at The Fix, they have the flier republished in its entirety at ABC, and likely at other news outlets as well.

So- if you're a small-budget operation looking to spread your message to the public, do you print a couple thousand fliers (millions?) and try to hit everyone indvidually, or do you print 100 and give them to journalists?

Posted by: bsimon | January 15, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

An apparent copy of the flyer is here:

The address given at the bottom appears to be of a newspaper:

Whether this is a "false flag operation" or not, it'd be nice if someone would point out all of McCain's lies rather than just trying to smear him.

Unfortunately, while the MSM is quite willing to cover smears, they aren't willing to ask McCain the questions that would expose his lies. Instead, they help him mislead:

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | January 15, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Good Teaser CC. Now what did the flier say??

Posted by: lylepink | January 15, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Chris, question.

I'm not going to outright accuse McCain of trying to swift boat himself, but something that strikes me as odd, is you mention 100 journalists...

Not being a journalist myself, is this common?

Would a smear campaign openly send fliers of this kind to journalists? Or try to sneak them under the radar?

Posted by: mr.m.lofc | January 15, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Romney declared winner in Michigan by NBC

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 15, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

You should be ashamed of yourself for such a comment. Unless you have endured over 5 years of continual torture while serving your country, you have zero right to make such a statement.

Posted by: GordonsGirl | January 15, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? This flier was probably a plant by McCain's campaign. It is actually a very good campaign tactic--remind folks of 2000 and the dirty tricks.

Posted by: jb326200 | January 15, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

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