Allegations of Infidelity and Corruption? Best Thing that Ever Happened to the McCain Campaign!

The New York Times (and Civic Alert!) published an article on Thursday that suggested romantic ties between Republican presidential front-runner John McCain and female lobbyist Vicki Iseman in 1999. In the story, McCain’s former political adviser John Weaver said that Iseman had special interaction with and influence over McCain.

Since then, the fallout has been tremendous. The McCain camp has not only successfully turned a potentially damning story about his alleged inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist into a story about the New York Times’ “liberal bias,” but has gained widespread conservative support in the process.

McCain, who said he was “disappointed” in the the Times, recorded his single-best 24 hours in online fund-raising the day following the report. Long-time conservative critics of McCain came to his defense, blasting the New Yorks Times “smear campaign.”

“This is the most despicable act of liberal bias that I have seen in my life,” Sean Hannity, the conservative talk show host, said Thursday about the Times article. “They wanted you to come to a conclusion, and that is that Senator McCain had some kind of relationship with a female lobbyist and did special favors for her. It is beyond disgusting and despicable.”

McCain used the article to his advantage. Only hours after the article was published, the McCain’ campaign manager, Rick Davis, sent out a new fundraising letter that read “Well, here we go … we need your help to counteract the liberal establishment and fight back against The New York Times by making an immediate contribution today.”

Even the White House accused the New York Times of an anti-GOP bias on Friday. When asked if President Bush supports McCain, deputy press secretary Scott M. Stanzel instead answered that the New York Times “makes incredible leaps” to “drop a bombshell” on Republican nominees.

I’ve got to say, even in the worst case scenario that this New York Times story really is nothing by gossip and speculation, McCain’s handling of this controversy really shows how accustomed he is to using dirty techniques for cheap political gains. This article didn’t blindside McCain like his campaign would like you to believe. The New York Times has been calling McCain since December trying to get an interview for the article. They were offering him an opportunity to tell his side of the story, but after seeing how much he’s gained from simply playing the role of the victim, I can see why he chose not to. Even this week, the McCain campaigned was notified by the Times before the article was published. They knew this was coming, and judging by their skillfully dirty tactic of shifting the issue from McCain’s alleged infidelity and corruption to instead portray him as the victim of the “liberal establishment,” they were ready for it.

McCain is known for how well he gets along with reporters, but his handling of this controversy really shows how cutthroat his campaign is willing to be. For those of you who are interested, the Times has posted an informative response to the over 4,000 questions they received about the article.

McCain Gathers Support and Donations in Aftermath of Article in The Times – [New York Times]

McCain on claim of coziness with lobbyist: ‘It’s not true’ – [CNN]

The McCain Article – [New York Times]

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4 Responses

  1. I’m glad people are donating to him. The more people that donate, the harder he will try to opt out of public funding.

  2. Eh, I don’t know about that. No matter how many people donate to him, he still won’t have the fundraising power of Obama, so I think he’ll always want to do public funding. Post coming soon about that btw.

  3. Then why is he trying to get out of it?

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