On Thursday, John McCain -- and the Republican Party at large -- turned a New York Times story that suggested a possibly inappropriate relationship between McCain and a female lobbyist into a positive, using the article to rally conservatives and do some fundraising. On Friday, Democrats decided to get in on the fun.
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, who was unsparing in comments he made about McCain on Thursday, sent out a fundraising e-mail under his name Friday. Dean specifically references the conservative push-back against the Times and the hay the right made out of it, then says to Democrats, "Let's hit back."
The full text of the e-mail:
It's like 1989 all over again -- John McCain has been caught in yet another ethics scandal.
If you had a TV on yesterday, you saw who jumped to his defense -- the team of lobbyists who work for him, led by campaign manager and lobbyist Rick Davis, and the well-oiled right-wing noise machine, led by Rush Limbaugh. In an ironic message to McCain supporters yesterday, lobbyist Davis wrote ... [John McCain] has led the charge to limit the money and influence of the special interests in politics and stomp out corruption. They spent the day breathlessly assailing the New York Times as "liberal," ignoring the ethics lapses the team of reporters had uncovered. The fact is, John McCain is facing legitimate questions about lobbyists, favors, and campaign contributions, just as he did during the Keating Five scandal that nearly derailed his political career twenty years ago.
Seeing more dollar signs, the McCain campaign and the RNC decided to jump at the chance to take advantage of the distraction they had created to raise money. They had spent the day firing their supporters up, trying desperately to change the subject, and then they literally cashed in on it. It was textbook sleaze.
So, let's hit back.
Don't let John McCain's team of lobbyists, Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing noise machine, the RNC and their special-interest backers take advantage of John McCain's most recent ethics scandal -- it's disgusting, and we can't let them get ahead like this. They're screaming as loud as they can, and you can send a message right back.
You and I know the truth. We know that John McCain is no maverick; he's no reformer. He promises the same ethics that have defined Washington and the Republican Party for far too long.
Just read what the Washington Post had to say today about John McCain's campaign operatives ... For years, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has railed against lobbyists and the influence of "special interests" in Washington, touting on his campaign Web site his fight against "the 'revolving door' by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided."
But when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried.
The facts are clear: from Keating Five to today, throughout his 25 years in Washington John McCain has consistently taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from his special interest friends, flown on their corporate jets, and then turned around and tried to do favors for them. And he's surrounded himself with just the type of people he claims to fight against -- including Rick Davis, Charlie Black, and senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon.
McCain and the right-wing noise machine will do anything and say anything to win. Turning an ethics scandal into a fundraising opportunity is just the start, and exactly what you'd expect a team full of lobbyists to come up with.
Now we have to make sure that every voter in America knows it. We need your help to make sure we can take them on -- we can't afford four more years of lobbyists, corporate interests, and George Bush's Washington.
Send a message about how Washington should work. Match the McCain campaign and the RNC right now.
Thanks for hitting back,
P.S. -- John McCain may try to claim that the past careers of his advisers are irrelevant, but look at this passage from today's Washington Post article about Charlie Black, McCain adviser and chairman of lobbying firm BKSH and Associates ... But even as Black provide a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, McCain's Commerce Committee.
Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus. John McCain literally has a lobbyist for "corporate interests and foreign governments" working from the "Straight Talk Express."
Where will they work from if he wins the White House?
Make a contribution right now to stop this kind of politics.