In an August 6 article headlined "Republicans' offense is their best defense," Politico senior political writer Jonathan Martin asserted that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), "who has generally avoided tough partisan rhetoric, recently indulged in some shots at the expense of" Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). McCain, however, has frequently launched partisan attacks against Democrats, including his assertion that leading Democrats have "embrace[d] the policy of surrender" in Iraq.
Martin wrote: "Asked about the Democrat's claim that he had a better handle on foreign policy because of his time living overseas and his multicultural background, the Arizona Republican senator took this jab: 'Well, I also think I'm the most qualified to run the decathlon, because I watch sports on television all the time.' " Contrary to Martin's claim that McCain "has generally avoided tough partisan rhetoric," McCain has taken many similar "jabs" in the past, as Media Matters for America has documented:
- In a May 25 press release, McCain criticized Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for voting against an Iraq war supplemental funding bill that did not include a timetable for withdrawal, and asserted: "I was very disappointed to see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton embrace the policy of surrender by voting against funds to support our brave men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan." In fact, as Media Matters has noted, McCain has voted against emergency spending bills funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- In response to McCain's criticism, Obama asserted in a press release that "the course we are on in Iraq" is not "working," and noted that "Senator McCain required a flack jacket" and other military protection when walking through a Baghdad market during a trip to Iraq. In his response, McCain took issue with Obama's spelling: "By the way, Senator Obama, it's a 'flak' jacket, not a 'flack' jacket." Yet Media Matters compiled numerous examples of military websites using the same spelling as Obama.
- On March 27, McCain used an appearance on Glenn Beck's nationally syndicated radio show to characterize an emergency supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war as "shameful" and "disgraceful." McCain said of the Democratic troop withdrawal plan included in the bill: "I think we should call this legislation the Date Certain for Surrender Act."
- During the February 7 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, McCain attacked Obama regarding correspondence they had recently exchanged over efforts to reform congressional lobbying. During the interview, Matthews read from a letter McCain wrote to Obama: "'I concluded your professed concern for the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions.' You're saying to the guy, 'I thought you were a gentleman and a civil servant and now you're obviously not.' " McCain responded, "I thought it was pretty well written; didn't you?"
- McCain was one of several Republicans to misconstrue and criticize Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) comment to a group of students in California that "if you study hard ... you can do well," but if "you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." Although Kerry clarified that he was criticizing President Bush and not U.S. soldiers, McCain asserted that "[t]he suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq is an insult to every soldier serving in combat today."
Martin's assertion recalled a claim made by Rick Davis, then-CEO of McCain's presidential campaign and currently his campaign manager, who said on the February 27 edition of Hardball, "John McCain doesn't attack other candidates" and "you never see him talking about people in a partisan fashion."
From the August 6 edition of The Politico:
On the stump in New Hampshire last week, [Republican presidential candidate Mitt] Romney summed up [Hillary] Clinton's economic views as "out with Adam Smith and in with Karl Marx" and quipped that she couldn't "get elected president of France with her platform."
[Republican presidential candidate Rudy] Giuliani has been even harsher. In New Hampshire last week to roll out his health care initiative, Giuliani warned that Democrats would raise taxes by as much as 30 percent and want to push a "socialist" approach to health care as part of their "nanny government" beliefs.
Also in recent days, Giuliani labeled the Democrats "the party of losers" for their desire to pull out of Iraq.
Even McCain, who has generally avoided tough partisan rhetoric, recently indulged in some shots at the expense of Obama.
Asked about the Democrat's claim that he had a better handle on foreign policy because of his time living overseas and his multicultural background, the Arizona Republican senator took this jab: "Well, I also think I'm the most qualified to run the decathlon, because I watch sports on television all the time."