Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Sunday slammed President Obama’s reelection campaign as one of the most “disgraceful” and negative he’s ever seen, but conceded that the attacks have “succeeded to a certain degree” at disqualifying Mitt Romney with voters.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Obama’s 2008 opponent weighed in on an ad by the pro-Obama Priorities USA that implies Romney was responsible for the death of a cancer-stricken woman after his company took steps that cost her her job and health insurance.
“In 2008, this president and the people around him promised hope and change, a new environment in Washington,” McCain said. “And now it’s probably deteriorated into the most negative, most unpleasant, most disgraceful campaign that I have ever observed, and I’ve been intimately involved in them since 1984.”
“I’ve got to give them credit, they have succeeded to a certain degree, of painting — with nothing but attack ads — Mitt Romney into something that’s not an acceptable alternative, because he can’t run on his record,” McCain continued.
It’s a remarkable admission that Romney’s other surrogates haven’t made. The Romney campaign and its supporters insist voters will punish Obama for the negativity.
The Obama campaign has sought to keep a distance from the ad, but has made similar insinuations. McCain insisted the campaign was involved, arguing that “the closest advisers to President Obama are the ones responsible for that ad. We all know these connections are there.”
As the Obama campaign and top Democrats relentlessly attack Romney as a millionaire corporate predator who’s out of touch with the middle class, Obama has in recent weeks expanded his lead in the polls. The negative tone of the re-election campaign reflects a marked difference from Obama’s widely-hailed positive message in 2008.
“Clearly the president should denounce an ad that paints a good and decent man — Governor Mitt Romney, who he may disagree with — into a person who is responsible for a man’s wife’s death. I don’t know how you get worse than that,” McCain said. “Again, it makes me sad more than angry.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.