Obama Responds To Swift Boat Attack While McCain Violates Previous Vow To Condemn Such Attacks

Here in Michigan, as well as in other battle ground states, an ad is being shown frequently from a right wing independent group, the American Issues Project, which attempts to Swift Boat Barack Obama by distorting the facts about his association with Bill Ayers. One of the local television stations carrying the ad also reported on the controversy surrounding it and clarifies some of the distorted claims made in the ad:

Ayers hosted a fundraiser for Obama early in his political career and made a donation, but that didn’t necessarily launch his career.

The ad doesn’t mention that Obama criticized the U.S. Capitol bombing as “detestable” earlier this year, and that Obama’s interaction with Ayers came during his tenure as a college professor, not as part of the Weather Underground.

The two served on an anti-poverty board Obama said also included Republicans

Remarkably, while many local television stations are running the ad, Fox News declined the ad. Any ad attacking Democrats which is dishonest enough to be rejected by Fox must really be bad.

The Obama campaign has prepared a response ad which so far has only aired in Ohio. The ad can be viewed here. The transcript reads:

With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the sixties, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?

McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers’ crimes, committed when Obama was just eight years old.

Let’s talk about standing up for America today.

John McCain wants to spend $10 Billion a month in Iraq, tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas, selling out American workers.

John McCain, just more of the same.

Obama decided against accepting matching funds in order to be able to have the funds to prepare such response ads in contrast to John Kerry who faced the attacks from the Swift Boat Liars during a time when there were limited funds available for response due to restrictions placed upon him by accepting matching funds. When Obama first gave this reason some criticized him by arguing that there were not any active independent groups as were present in 2004. This attack demonstrates why Obama needed to make the decision he did.

The leadership of the American Issues Project includes a former paid consultant of John McCain.  While the ad did not come directly from the McCain campaign,  Greg Sargent notes that McCain has issued a statement supporting the arguments made. In a follow up post Sargent notes how McCain promised not to tolerate such tactics when interviewed by Chris Matthews during MSNBC’s s “College Tour” in mid-April:

McCain was asked by Matthews whether he would “sit down with the Democratic nominee” and “agree there will be no outside attacks.” Matthews further asked McCain directly whether he would “agree up front” to “condemn any attack like a swift boating” as the nominee.

“Would you do that?” Matthews asked.

“I would love to do that,” McCain replied, to loud applause.

It gets better. McCain went on to suggest that calling on such groups to stop the attacks basically works.

McCain recalled that during the GOP primary he’d taken an outside group to task and demanded a halt in their activities.

“They stopped,” McCain said. “They stopped.”

“So it works?” Matthews asked.

“I think so,” McCain replied. “I think so.”

Matthews pressed further, asking directly whether there will be “no shots at the other person’s character” about “elitism” or similar topics.

“Yes,” McCain replied.

In that case we shouldn’t be surprised that McCain failed to keep his word regarding condemning Swift Boating considered that he has already been engaged in shots at Obama’s character such as with the celebrity ads.


  1. 1
    chris says:

    Three quick points:

    1. I am amused by the word “distorted”. Are you really more upset that the ad “distorts” Obama’s relationship with a domestic terrorist than the fact that Obama has such a lack in judgment to have the relationship with a man whose group killed police and bombed federal buildings in the first place?
    2. Not 100% sure on this but the narrator on the ad sounds just like the guy who also does voice-overs on McCain’s approved ads.
    3. Politics is a contact sport. Marquis of Queensbury doesn’t often apply. Politicians stop doing negative ads only when they think it will hurt them in the polls. Obama is just as guilty. Heck – the only rationale for picking Biden as running mate is so Biden can be an attack dog leaving Obama to be Mr. Clean.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I am concerned by the distortions, which you repeat in your comment. Serving on a bipartisan committee with someone is not the same as having a relationship with someone as this ad, and you, claim. There was no need for Obama to refuse to be on a committee with a college professor based upon something he did in the past (which Obama has condemned) any more than there was a need for the Republicans on the same committee to refuse such an association with Ayers.

    There is a big difference between negative ads over legitimate differences and dishonest smears such as this. Biden was picked to attack McCain over his positions–not to engage in such smears.

  3. 3
    Dave Dragon says:

    Too much bullshit from the right instead of actually trying to win the election on Merritt, they just sling BS in hopes that it sticks.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    That is it. The Republicans are on the wrong side of all the issues. They can’t win with their plans to remain in Iraq, to make consumers pay even more of their health care costs out of their own pockets, to bring back shirt hanger abortions, or to increase the deficit tremendously with a tax plan which primarily benefits those in the top one tenth of one percent of the country. Therefore rather than campaign based upon the issues they repeatedly resort to dishonest smears such as this.

  5. 5
    blix says:

    Unfortunately the general public is not well informed of fact and are extremely susceptible to soundbites and personal attacks.  Rove-Republicans know this, so they use swiftboat tactics and win.  Time and time again.
    Why do the democrats continue to cling to the highroad? When it comes time to vote, people remember buzz words (e.g.: ‘celebrity’) rather than substance.

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