A testy response to testimonials ad

August 08, 2008|Maeve Reston

When John McCain railed against the Bush administration or bucked his party on campaign finance reform, he was his Democratic colleagues' favorite Republican.

But their praise is coming back to haunt them.

On Thursday, McCain's campaign released a one-minute Web ad seeking to burnish his maverick image -- with testimonials from prominent Democrats.

The montage includes Hillary Rodham Clinton's scathing assessment of Obama's readiness to be president: "I know Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience he will bring to the White House. And Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."

There is footage of Obama defender Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, who reportedly considered McCain as a running mate in 2004, calling McCain "a courageous, patriotic American who stands up for what he believes." Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., a potential vice presidential pick, is shown stating he would be "honored to run with or against John McCain."

Perhaps most embarrassing is a 2003 clip of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean saying he modeled his own presidential bid on McCain's 2000 run because of McCain's direct manner.

The ad set off a flurry of retractions. Kerry described it as desperate: "The real question is what happened to the John McCain we used to know and why he changed overnight into a George Bush nominee with a Karl Rove campaign."

Biden said it was "unfortunate" McCain had "changed so much in just eight years." Dean contended the McCain of 2000 would not "consider voting for the John McCain of 2008."

Within hours, the DNC struck back with its own video montage of fresh quotes from the same Democrats criticizing McCain this year. The title of the ad? "Maverick no more."

-- Maeve Reston

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