Much has been said on Romney blogs and elsewhere expressing outrage at McCain's desperate tactic to dishonestly smear Gov. Romney's stance on "timetables" and the Iraq war. It's blatantly apparent that McCain only did this to bring the issue of "Iraq" back into the race. McCain knows (and has repeatedly admitted) that "the Economy" is not his strong point, and that he'll lose to Romney in a head to head fight when that is the #1 issue. So, McCain's solution is to invent a controversial position for his main rival that plays to his own strength. Pitiful politics at its worst.
I've heard this false "timetables" accusation once before (good old Huck), so I was initially willing to believe that McCain was maybe just going off of bad information--that he would correct the situation once he realized the context. But when Romney's recommendation for a McCain apology was met with a "Romney should apologize to the troops for being willing to abandon them" (paraphrased) rebuttal I started getting downright angry.
When I realized that yesterday McCain said "My friends, I was there — he said he wanted a timetable for withdrawal" my anger turned to OUTRAGE!
Then on Meet the Press this morning, Tim Russert went softball on McCain on this issue with no follow-up, allowing McCain to repeat his position unchallenged with the follow-up of "please read on Senator" when Romney says that he would, like President Bush, veto any legislation setting timetables for Iraq. That's either biased or shoddy journalism folks.
McCain is LYING! He's inventing this pseudo-smear to bring back his preferred issue into the limelight . . . Iraq. Then I find out that, last year, McCain recommended a similar strategy (and his would have been PUBLIC . . . in contrast to Romney's) of benchmarks that, if not met by a certain date, would lead to pulling out of Iraq before success was achieved!! This took my OUTRAGE to the next level . . . the "I'M MAD AS HELL! AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!" level.
Who's with me here?
I'm sure every Romney supporter is at least outraged. Most may be outraged enough to make it harder for McCain to count on any significant support from Romney's base if he were to get the nomination. I can tell you that I'm mad enough that I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR JOHN McCAIN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AND I'LL DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO INFLUENCE OTHERS TO WITHHOLD THEIR SUPPORT AND VOTES FROM HIM AS WELL. Romney has always supported the troops and the war, even while governing liberal Mass. For McCain to imply otherwise is sickening (McCain went further and actually implied that Romney's position was the same as Hillary Clinton's on timetables!).
Beyond Romney's supporters "McCain Disdain" should be felt by every conservative and pro-Military American, who should view him with much less respect for dragging the American soldiers into this contrived controversy. Utterly shameless Senator McCain.
I know a lot of conservatives with influence see how dishonest McCain is being. But even the liberal MSM is calling this "scuffle" for Romney. This isn't just a nuanced misunderstanding, this is dirty politics full of tricks and lies, and it's pretty easy to see where the facts stand.
I've documented before how slanted the AP has been in their pro-McCain/anti-Romney bias.
So when the AP sides with Romney over McCain, you KNOW it's iron clad and there's no way for ANYONE to honestly see things from McCain's point of view.
The Arizona senator stood before a crowd in Sun City, Fla., and said he was quoting Romney as favoring a ''timetable for withdrawal.'' However, quotes circulated by McCain's campaign didn't show Romney making that comment.Other liberal sources that see McCain's misleading dishonesty include the New York Times (yep, the same paper that just endorsed McCain again . . . and yes, McCain sought out that endorsement), and Time Magazine (yep, the same magazine that just ran an incredibly positive cover and story about McCain being the "Phoenix Rising" in the race).
. . .
By raising Iraq, McCain sought to shift the campaign in Florida back to his strength, national security, and away from Romney's, the economy.
. . .
During the campaign stop later in Sun City, McCain clipped three words from a quotation of Romney's last April, saying the former Massachusetts believed the country should set a ''timetable for withdrawal.''
In an interview with ABC News last April, Romney never uttered those words
. . .
Romney aides labeled McCain's charge ''stunningly false'' in an e-mail to campaign reporters.
And CNN legal analyst calls it right in the YouTube below:
JEFF TOOBIN: Speaking of straight talk, no American politician has gotten more adoring press coverage than John McCain. But let's be clear about what John McCain is doing about Mitt Romney. He's lying. He's lying about Mitt Romney's position, no question about it. And you know I think that — this idea that Mitt Romney supports timetables, in fact most Americans support timetables to get out of Iraq, Mitt Romney doesn't happen to be one of them. That's really outrageous what McCain is doing bringing up this ancient interview and distorting it at the last minute so he doesn't have to talk about the economy.Among conservatives there's plenty of displeasure with McCain's tactic as well:
Brit Hume flat out said that "McCain was dishonest" on this issue on Fox News Sunday this morning. Hume said it TWICE! He was even exasperated that Chris Wallace was trying to present McCain's side of it by rebutting (paraphrased) "Chris, as journalists we have a duty to try to present things accurately . . ." (Fox's "Fox News Sunday," 1/27/08)
Sean Hannity was railing on McCain for this tactic last night on a special Saturday edition of Hannity and Colmes. Expect more of it from Sean on his Radio and TV shows tomorrow (not to mention what Rush will have to say tomorrow!!)
"The Great One" Mark Levin, has seemed to make somewhat of a personal crusade out of this issue. See here, here, here, here, and here.
Center-Right influential blogger Ed Morrissey has plenty to say about the whole affair, but even his title "The Low Blow" pretty much sums it up. (BTW, he just endorsed Romney over at Captain's Quarters)
Katherine Jean Lopez of the National Review has chimed in too.
Powerline's Paul Mirengoff blast's Lindsey Graham for trying to defend McCain (and mis-characterize Romney) on this issue.
Bill Bennett (a strong McCain apologist and friend) said on CNN (CNN's "Newsroom," 1/26/08) that McCain's Iraq hit on Romney [was] "Way Below The Belt.":
"But the blow he took at Romney was way below the belt." . . .Mark Steyn gets in on the act at NRO's "The Corner" by calling McCain's petty attacks unseemly for a candidate trying to give the impression that he always "takes the high road of honor"
"He's a maverick candidate. He should apologize for it." . . .
"He Twisted That Entirely Out Of Context." . . .
"He's always criticizing people doing that to him and he absolutely should not have done it." . . ."It just wasn't fair and honor is his watch word and he -- I think it would be great if he said I got that one wrong. And that would be a rare thing."
Hugh Hewitt presents the Romney Campaign's defense.
Andy McCarthy also chimes in with a little sarcasm directed McCain's way (saying he should follow his own Campaign Finance Reform guidelines and not drop baseless bombshells within 30 days of an election)
By contrast, Huckabee (on Fox News Sunday) said that McCain has NEVER been dishonest, and sided with the Senator's opinion that Romney really did support a timetable for withdrawl. Big surprise there, eh?
If Romney survives this tag-team from his two main GOP rivals in addition to the nearly incessant negative media coverage (present topic excluded) he'll really be "The Resilient One"--a nominee we can put up against the Dems and their MSM machine with no fear of whether he can survive such a media/DNC onslaught.
Update: Adding to the sources above, Kyle Hampton's post adds some more confirmatory evidence of McCain's lie.
Quin Hillyer: John McCain today flat-out lied about Gov. Romney's position on the troop "surge," etc. This is no surprise. McCain's "straight talk express" has been anything but straight for quite some time now. He has been making false claims about what his position on immigration was just last summer. He has been making false claims about why he opposed Bush's tax cuts. He has been making false claims about Romney's stance on "torture." He has made misleading (not exactly false, but certainly misleading) representations about Giuliani's position on the line item veto. He has misrepresented his helpfulness on judicial nominations. And I know I am forgetting some of the other things he has not been exactly straight about.Update #2 (2/3/08) Yet more evidence of McCain's blatant dishonesty:
Allahpundit: Yeah, pretty egregious. He never said he “wanted” to withdraw or that he wanted a date set, and it’s patently clear he doesn’t want any timetables publicly announced.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: It’s a reminder — like the McCain campaign’s dishonest line of attack this weekend — that as admirable McCain is as both a hero and a politician, he is not irreproachable even on national-security issues. McCain is fond of saying he’d rather lose a political campaign than a war; he now seems to be swimming close to using the war to win a political campaign in the most dishonest of ways. It’s conduct unbecoming a man we all respect.
Marc Ambinder: Then he was asked to justify his contention that Romney once supported a withdrawal timetable for Iraq. (I wrote this morning that McCain "stretched" history with the remark, and a few moments before this particular question received a stern talking to by two McCain aides and one reporter.)
David Freddoso: McCain’s unfair stab at Romney this weekend may not cost him anything. The endorsement from Florida’s popular governor, Charles Crist, came at just the right time to bury the item in the local news. And if he does win the nomination, this moment may not even be remembered. Unfortunately, the truth is always too complicated for a quick explanation.
Michael Reagan, in a piece that strongly argues that "McCain's no Reagan", says:
In last night’s debate, McCain stubbornly defended his charge, false on the face of it, that Romney wanted a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
"I have never, ever supported a specific timetable" for withdrawing troops, Romney said, adding that McCain's accusation on the eve of Tuesday's primary "sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible."
What Romney said last April, was merely that U.S. and Iraqi leaders "have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about" in private, which in no way suggests he was in any sense talking about troop withdrawals.
Despite the evidence, McCain charged that "of course he said he wanted a timetable" for a withdrawal, even though he had never said any such thing. It was McCain daring to ask us if we wanted to believe our lying eyes or his demonstrably false allegation.
McCain must think conservatives are dumb . . .
Thomas Sowell (who rarely ventures deeply into "horserace" politics) penned a piece entitled "McCain's Straight Lies":
The fact that McCain makes short, blunt statements does not make him a straight-talker.
There are short, blunt lies — and he told a big one on the eve of the Florida primary, when he claimed that Mitt Romney had advocated a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
. . .
Confronted with his lie on Wednesday night's debate, McCain blustered and filibustered in a manner reminiscent of Captain Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny," when he was caught in a lie during a navy inquiry.
When confronted with any of his misdeeds, Senator McCain tends to fall back on his record as a war hero in Vietnam.
Let's talk sense. Benedict Arnold was a war hero but that did not exempt him from condemnation for his later betrayal.
Being a war hero is not a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card. And becoming President of the United States is not a matter of rewarding an individual for past services.
The Washington Post (who has endorsed McCain) even gave him "Three Pinnochio's" for this whopper:
Talking vaguely about "timetables and milestones" is not the same thing as setting "a date for withdrawal," from Iraq, as Senator McCain has tried to argue. And while Romney has talked about secret understandings with the Iraqi government, that is very different from promises by Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates to remove most U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of 2009.
The AP's follow-up story "Fact Check: Romney didn't say what McCain says he said on withdrawing from Iraq" also bashes McCain's dishonesty:
Republican John McCain tried to lump Mitt Romney with Democrats who want a timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.
But Romney never called for the kind of public withdrawal date or timeline that Democrats in Congress sought last year.
. . .
Romney never embraced the idea of a public withdrawal date.
Reuters saw the distortion and political ploy for what it was:
SHIFTING TOPICSGeorge Will condemned McCain on this, accusing him of "Crooked-talk" in his recent piece "Staying the Coarse":
A day earlier, McCain accused Romney of backing a set withdrawal date for U.S. troops from Iraq, a distortion of Romney's record that he angrily denied.
Rush Limbaugh of course, covered the topic and chose to title the segment "McCain's Clintonesque Lie About Romney and Iraq Is Disappointing"
This was a garden-variety dishonesty, the manufacture of which does not cause a Clinton in midseason form to break a sweat. And it was no worse than -- actually, not as gross as -- St. John of Arizona's crooked-talk claim in Florida that Mitt Romney wanted to "surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do" in Iraq because Romney "wanted to set a date for withdrawal that would have meant disaster."
Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, the Clintons should bask in the glow of John McCain's Clintonian gloss on this fact: Ten months ago Romney said that President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki should discuss, privately, "a series of timetables and milestones." That unremarkable thought was twisted by McCain, whose distortions are notably clumsy, as when Romney said, accurately, that he alone among the candidates has had extensive experience in private-sector business. That truth was subjected to McCain's sophistry, and he charged that Romney had said "you haven't had a real job" if you had a military career. If, this autumn, voters must choose between Clinton and McCain, they will face, at least stylistically, an echo, not a choice.
But that dreary scenario need not come to pass. Romney seems to have found his voice as attention turns to the economy, a subject concerning which McCain seems neither conversant nor eager to become so.
Now, this was totally dishonest. This attack by Senator McCain just wasn't true. Romney has never advocated timetables. The New York Times labeled this as untrue. The AP leveled it as untrue. Senator McCain had to change the subject because I think they got some bad polling data to indicate that they had to change the subject. But this really roiled a lot of people over the weekend. This was just blatant, this was just an out-and-out lie, and many people thought that the McCain camp thought they would get away with it because of their love and slavish devotion of the Drive-By Media. But it didn't work. He didn't get away with it. It remains to be seen what impact it will have on primary voters in Florida tomorrow. My friend Andrew McCarthy had the funniest take on this. I so wanted to steal this as my own, but I have ethics, and I think when people come up with great stuff, they deserve the credit for it. Andrew McCarthy, on Saturday afternoon in the midst of all of this, said, "I'm starting to think Senator McCain should not be allowed to mention the other candidates' names within 30 days before a primary."And even more from liberal networks that I'm pasting in from a Romney Campaign Press Release:
He levels an allegation about Romney that's just flat not true, and if some organization wanted to run an ad calling him on it they'd be in violation of McCain's reform of campaign finance regulations. What a racket McCain is running. Is that not brilliant? And it's absolutely right. McCain comes out with this lie about Romney in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, and there's no way a Romney camp or group can run an ad on television here in Florida refuting it because you can't do that 30 days before a primary under McCain-Feingold's restrictions on free speech, but the candidates can go out there and say what they want. So Romney had to do the replying himself. He put a video up, and they were quick getting it out, but McCarthy's point is right on the money. It's hilarious. Hey, Senator McCain, you can't say anything about any candidate within 30 days before the election. McCain-Feingold ought to extend to the candidates, too, don't you think?
CNN's John King: "Governor Romney Did Not Say That." "He did not say the president should go to Iraq and give Al-Maliki a timeline for withdrawal in private. Governor Romney did not say that." (CNN's "Newsroom," 1/26/08)
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: "He's Desperately Trying To Change The Topic From The Economy..." (MSNBC's "Morning Joe," 1/28/08)
· Scarborough: "He Did Lie About, Everybody Knows That He Lied About Mitt Romney." "If John McCain did lie and he did lie about it, everybody knows that he lied about Mitt Romney, everybody knows he lied when he said that he wanted to put a timeline on it and get us out of there." (MSNBC's "Morning Joe," 1/30/08)
· Scarborough: "I Haven't Met Anybody In The Media That Hasn't Said John McCain Lied About Mitt Romney." "I haven't met anybody in the media that hasn't said John McCain lied about Mitt Romney and it threw Romney off for two days. What's wrong with saying that?" (MSNBC's "Morning Joe," 1/30/08)
MSNBC's David Shuster: "John McCain Is Being Misleading." "Actually, Mitt Romney is on the money with this one, and John McCain is being misleading." (MSNBC's "Morning Joe," 1/28/08)
· Shuster: McCain's Attack Was "Not Right." "But the fact of the matter is, when John McCain says that Mitt Romney was for public timetables, in other words, letting the Iraqis know when U.S. troops are leaving and that therefore Mitt Romney should apologize to the troops, as John McCain said, that's not right." (MSNBC's "Morning Joe," 1/28/08)
On Hannity and Colmes lastFriday night (Feb 1st) Newt Gingrich was giving his opinion on the GOP race and distinctly mentioned that McCain was "wrong" and "dishonest" in this attack.
Bob Dole even chimed in on the issue:
I do not agree that Governor Romney ever suggested a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq.
Is it sinking in that this isn't just a bunch of pro-Romney people making this point?