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Romney Campaign Press Release - The McCain Way: Personal Attacks McCain 2000 Campaign Smeared George Bush In Phone Calls

January 05, 2008

"[McCain's] spokesman's denial that any calls were being made, followed by his own statement that 'I didn't have anything to do' with the negative calls, hardly met the standards of the 'Straight Talk Express'." (Carl P. Leubsdorf, Op-Ed, "McCain's Missteps Hurt His Claim To Be A Political Reformer," The Dallas Morning News, 3/9/00)

Sen. McCain's Campaign Resorted To Nasty Tactics During The 2000 Michigan Primary:

Prior To The 2000 Primary, Voters In Michigan Began Receiving Pre-Recorded Phone Calls Criticizing Then-Gov. Bush And Portraying Him As Being Anti-Catholic. "Adrienne Karns, an accountant from Birmingham, Mich., said in an interview that she received a recorded call telling her Catholics should vote for McCain. She said she did not believe the call was endorsed by McCain's campaign, and instead was sponsored by an outside group. 'It started off saying it was a "Catholic voters" alert,' Karns said, noting the call mentioned Bush's appearance at Bob Jones University in South Carolina and school's perception as being anti-Catholic. 'It said McCain had not been to the university, and he was a friend of all Catholics, and all Catholics should vote for John McCain,' she said. Karns said she was voting for Bush and that the call would not change her mind." (David Espo, "Religious Broadcaster Attacks McCain Official As 'Vicious Bigot,'" The Associated Press, 2/21/00)

- The Script Of The 2000 McCain Campaign's "Catholic Voter Alert." "This is a Catholic Voter Alert. Governor George W. Bush has campaigned against Senator John McCain by seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists who have expressed anti-Catholic views. Several weeks ago, Governor Bush spoke at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones has made strong anti-Catholic statements, including calling the Pope the anti-Christ and the Catholic Church a satanic cult! John McCain, a pro-life senator, has strongly criticized this anti-Catholic bigotry, while Governor Bush has stayed silent while gaining the support of Bob Jones University. Because of this, one Catholic pro-life congressman has switched his support from Bush to McCain, and many Michigan Catholics now support John McCain for president." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 3/5/00)

After First Denying Knowledge Of The Calls, Sen. McCain Admitted To Personally Approving Them:

Sen. McCain's Campaign First Denied Being Behind The Anti-Catholic Calls. "Bush attacked McCain for twisting the issue to portray him as an anti-Catholic bigot and said he was disappointed in the Arizona senator. 'This is a man who paid for telephone calls in Michigan strongly implying I am an anti-Catholic bigot,' said Bush, who lost the state's primary to McCain last Tuesday. 'This is a man who said he was going to tell the truth and run a positive campaign. It looks like he might have violated both.' Some Michigan voters received prerecorded phone calls criticizing Bush for speaking at Bob Jones. The McCain campaign at first denied making the calls, but later acknowledged approving them." ("Bush Slams McCain For Anti-Catholic 'Smear,'" Reuters, 2/28/00)

- McCain: "I Didn't Have Anything To Do With Them To Start With." "On Wednesday, Fox News broadcast a news conference from the previous day in which Mr. McCain was asked 'Have you ordered that those phone calls be stopped?' Mr. McCain replied, 'I didn't have anything to do with them to start with.'" (David Barstow, "Bush Aide Says McCain Misled Public On Calls," The New York Times, 2/27/00)

However, Only Days After The Michigan Primary, Sen. McCain's Campaign Admitted Responsibility, Even Calling The Attack Calls "Accurate." "After denying any knowledge of the calls early Tuesday, the McCain campaign confirmed today that they had been made, but McCain said the statements were 'accurate and didn't call anybody a bigot.'" (David S. Broder, "McCain Rejects Accusations of Improper Tactics," The Washington Post, 2/24/00)

- Sen. McCain Acknowledged Personally Approving The Calls. "In an interview on Friday night on a flight from California to Ohio, where he campaigned today, Mr. McCain said he had personally approved the calls, which aides said were inspired by an earlier ad hoc effort by volunteers." (David Barstow, "Bush Aide Says McCain Misled Public On Calls," The New York Times, 2/27/00)

Sen. McCain's Campaign Used The Calls As Retaliation Against The Bush Campaign:

Sen. McCain's "Catholic Voter Alert" Calls Were In Direct Retaliation For His Loss In South Carolina. "Within days, immediately after Mr. Bush had defeated Mr. McCain in a bitter South Carolina primary battle with the help of Christian Coalition and anti-abortion phone banks, the McCain campaign recognized the effectiveness of the Michigan phone calls and decided to expand on them." (David Barstow, "Bush Aide Says McCain Misled Public On Calls," The New York Times, 2/27/00)

Sen. McCain Campaign Spent $8,000 On The Anti-Catholic Calls. "Aides drafted a telephone script, bought lists of Catholic voters and contracted with a telemarketing company, Conquest Communications of Richmond, Va., that on Monday, the day before the primary, called 24,000 Roman Catholic households in Michigan. The campaign spent $8,000 on the calls." (David Barstow, "Bush Aide Says McCain Misled Public On Calls," The New York Times, 2/27/00)

Sen. McCain Defended His Campaign's Use Of The Misleading "Catholic Voter Alert" Calls:

In The Los Angeles Debate, CNN's Jeff Greenfield Asked Sen. McCain If His Catholic Voter Alert Calls Were "Straight Talk." GREENFIELD: "On a related and more specific matter, I guess, you had about a week or so ago repeatedly denied that your campaign was the source of these calls from the so-called 'Catholic Voter Alert' and then said well, it was because you thought you were being asked about calls that were about anti-Catholic bigotry, and that's not what those calls said. But is there any reason why your campaign didn't say 'This is the McCain campaign calling,' instead of a non-existent group? Was that straight talk?" (CNN, Republican Presidential Candidate Debate, Los Angeles, CA, 3/2/00)

Sen. McCain Dug In His Heels When Confronted About The Calls On "Meet The Press." RUSSERT: "'The McCain campaign denied any knowledge of the calls.' That was Monday afternoon. On Tuesday afternoon, 'McCain spokesman Howard Opinsky said the campaign, "is not making any such calls."' It went on to Tuesday night. David Gregory said to you: 'He had allies making calls criticizing you. You had allies criticizing him.' McCain: 'Not so. No, that's not so. The calls were made that I had anything to do with--although I don't know who paid for them--had to do with pointing out that Governor Bush did go to an institution that prohibits racial dating, that is anti-Catholic.' You knew who was paying for that call?" (NBC's "Meet The Press," 3/5/00)

- SEN. MCCAIN: " I was paying for calls that stated the facts. The question that he asked me was, 'Are you running calls that are--that accuse Governor Bush of being anti-Catholic or practicing racial bigotry?' I said no then. I say no now. We were running factual statements. Those are far different from the kind of phone calls that were run by the Bush campaign which had very interesting allegations." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 3/5/00)

Sen. McCain Aides Expressed "Glee" Over The Exposure The Calls Were Producing. "Mr. Bush has lately been vigorously denouncing what he says are Mr. McCain's deceptive campaign tactics and has said he is a victim of 'guilt by association.' Mr. McCain and his staff refused to rule out more such calls in the coming primaries and have expressed glee that Mr. Bush's criticism of the calls draws more attention to his visit to the college." (David Barstow, "Bush Aide Says McCain Misled Public On Calls," The New York Times, 2/27/00)

Sen. McCain's Political Director Went As Far As To Tell Bush To Stop Whining About The Attack Ads. "McCain political director John Weaver, in effect, told Bush to stop whining. 'You reap what you sow, Governor,' he said, referring to Bush's South Carolina tactics." (David S. Broder; "McCain Rejects Accusations of Improper Tactics," The Washington Post, 2/24/00)

Mitt Romney, Romney Campaign Press Release - The McCain Way: Personal Attacks McCain 2000 Campaign Smeared George Bush In Phone Calls Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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