Doocy again falsely suggested Dean called McCain "blatantly opportunistic" for citing his war record

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Echoing his false claim the previous day that DNC chairman Howard Dean accused Sen. John McCain of "blatant opportunism" for referencing his military service as part of his presidential campaign, co-host Steve Doocy asserted on Fox & Friends that "Howard Dean looked at the biography tour and called John McCain blatantly opportunistic, which is extraordinary about a guy who spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton." In fact, Dean did not say that McCain's reference to his military record was "blatantly opportunistic."

During the April 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asserted, "[Democratic National Committee chairman] Howard Dean looked at the biography tour and called [Sen.] John McCain blatantly opportunistic, which is extraordinary about a guy who spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton." Doocy's remark echoed his false claim during the March 31 edition of Fox & Friends that Dean accused McCain of "blatant opportunism" for referencing his military service as part of his presidential campaign. Additionally, after New York Times columnist and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, who appeared as a guest on the April 1 program, asserted, "whatever you can say about McCain, the one thing he hasn't been is blatantly opportunistic," co-host Gretchen Carlson added, "On military service." In fact, Dean did not say that McCain's reference to his military record was "blatantly opportunistic."

In a March 28 statement, Dean said:

The American people have been waiting for a president who understands the challenges they face, not another out of touch Bush Republican who promises four more years of the same failed leadership. John McCain can try to reintroduce himself to the country, but he can't change the fact that he cast aside his principles to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush for the last seven years. While we honor McCain's military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn't understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.

On March 29, Republican National Committee chairman Robert Duncan issued a statement that falsely accused Dean of "stating that Senator McCain is a 'blatant opportunist' for discussing his record of military service with the American people." Doocy has now echoed this false assertion on two consecutive editions of Fox & Friends.

Further, while discussing McCain's "biographical tour," Kristol stated, "The people with the more impressive war records, the people who had served the country longest don't necessarily win." He then added, "George H.W. Bush, shot down as a kid in the Pacific in World War II, loses to Bill Clinton, who never served. Bob Dole, wounded in World War II, loses to Bill Clinton, who never served. John Kerry served in Vietnam, loses to George W. Bush, who didn't see combat." Carlson responded to Kristol by falsely asserting, "That's interesting, because the war on terror did not exist with the other presidents that you're mentioning, so I think that may be a difference." But contrary to Carlson's rationale for why McCain's war record might enhance his electoral chances more than other recent presidential candidates with military experience who were defeated, how to handle the so-called "war on terror" was a major point of contention between Bush and Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign.

From the April 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): I want to talk to you about the column you wrote, because you took the time to type it out with carbon paper so everyone had copies -- for The New York Times. You say John McCain -- wrong time for the biographical tour, right time for a tax reform policy, right time for an economic policy.

KRISTOL: OK to do the biographical tour -- it's an incredibly admirable biography -- but look at the last four elections. The people with the more impressive war records, the people who had served the country longest, don't necessarily win. George H.W. Bush, shot down as a kid in the Pacific in World War II, loses to Bill Clinton, who never served. Bob Dole --

DOOCY: Right.

KRISTOL: -- wounded in World War II, loses to Bill Clinton, who never served. John Kerry, served in Vietnam, loses to George W. Bush, who didn't see combat. The American people could say --

DOOCY: Sure.

KRISTOL: -- could say, "We admire John McCain's service 30 years ago, but" --

CARLSON: The only difference, though --

KRISTOL: -- "what's his -- what are his financial reform proposals? Does he understand what we have to do in the world?" And so I just think McCain has to pivot -- and I think he will -- but he has to pivot to a forward-looking, policy-heavy campaign.

CARLSON: That's interesting, because the war on terror did not exist with the other presidents that you're mentioning, so I think that may be a difference.

KRISTOL: I agree. Foreign policy's more important, but even so, people could say McCain was a great, you know, hero and has been in the POW camp, but, nonetheless, is he right about Iraq? Is he right about Iran? Jim Stockdale, you know, the admiral who died recently --

KILMEADE: Sure.

KRISTOL: I mean, he was -- he was McCain's commander in the camp at Hanoi.

DOOCY: That's right.

KRISTOL: He was truly a remarkable man. I've talked to McCain about this. I think there are very few Americans he admires more than Admiral Stockdale. And also a deep thinker who --

[crosstalk]

KILMEADE: -- who ran with Perot, Ross Perot.

KRISTOL: He ran with Perot. I was Quayle's chief of staff. Dan Quayle debated Stockdale and Gore in '92, and Stockdale --

[crosstalk]

KRISTOL: Thank you. Stockdale seemed a little out of it, and sort of -- he didn't do very well. And it really brought home to me that you can be a really fantastic human being, but people could say he's not up to the job now. Now that's not going to happen with John McCain, but I do think it's very important that the McCain people not kid themselves that this election is going to be about who was more heroic 30 years ago.

DOOCY: Let me ask you about one thing. Howard Dean looked at the biography tour and called John McCain blatantly opportunistic, which is extraordinary about a guy who spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton. Do you think that's appropriate criticism, or Howard Dean just out of his mind on that?

KRISTOL: Well, what's extraordinary about it is, what do the American people want? They would love to be able to get out of Iraq. You know, obviously the polls show that.

DOOCY: Sure.

KRISTOL: McCain tells them the hard truth: We're not going to be able to leave any time soon. We have to continue sacrificing; it's in our interest. That's not opportunism. That's leadership.

And there, I think, McCain should make the case, that on Iraq, on Iran, on the current issues we face in the war on terror -- his policies are the right ones, and Obama's are the easy way. But Dean -- Dean is amazing to call -- I mean, whatever you can say about McCain, the one thing he hasn't been is blatantly opportunistic.

DOOCY: There you go.

CARLSON: On military service.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.