Campaign Confidential

Praise for McCain in Some Unexpected Places

By Brett Lieberman

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A mere hour or so before the National Jewish Democratic Council’s annual Washington conference was set to begin, the Republican Jewish Coalition rolled out it’s latest ad and some interesting quotes.

The RJC recycles quotes from Hillary Rodham Clinton (March 2008), John Kerry (April 2004) and Chuck Schumer (November 2003).

But what’s sure to elicit an interesting responses at the NJDC conference is a quote by NJDC Executive Director Ira Forman.

“I have to take my hat off to [McCain] for putting principle in front of politics… I wish there were more John McCains,” Forman is quoted as saying.

Of course, RJC had to go way back to an Oct. 1, 1999 JTA story to find such a kind comment.

We couldn’t find the story RJC cites. Forman has characterized the GOP ad campaign as a bunch of smears.

RJC responded to a request for additional information noting that “It’s a JTA story.” But a spokesperson has not provided a copy of the story yet.

UPDATE: Forman says he doesn’t remember the quote, which he’s been informed came in the context of praising McCain for urging that Patrick Buchanan be kicked out of the Republican Party for his fringe views.

The important thing, according to Forman, is that “the four people that are quoted there, me, Hillary, Kerry and Schumer, we all agree on one thing – John McCain is not the best person for president. Barack Obama is the best.”

Forman did say that he still wishes there were more John McCains. Of course, it came in the context of his noting that “the [John McCain] who exists today bears no resemblance to the one from 1999.”

Forman also enjoyed the irony of the latest RJC ad highlighting his praise of McCain for criticizing Buchanan. Less than a week ago, RJC released an ad that highlighted Buchanan’s comments as it sought to draw a connection with Obama.

Here are the rest of the quotes:

The Clinton quote, “Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience,” is a partial quote. Clinton’s full comment was: “I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know that Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.”

RJC quotes Schumer at a 2003 press conference saying, “John McCain has always been a leader fighting any kind of special and narrow interest.”

McCain and New Hampshire Republican John Sununu joined Democratic senators for the news conference in which the lawmakers derided a Republican energy bill that they helped defeat.

Here’s what McCain had to say at the news conference:

McCain: “It was a victory that was not predicted. It is a victory that was brought about for several reasons, but one of them is that the closer this bill was examined the more unsavory it became obvious it was, chock full of things such as a facility to be put in New Mexico by an outfit that has connections with export of sensitive materials to foreign countries, relaxation of environmental laws. I mean, this bill will not pass, because the more people that examine it the more it becomes clear that it’s a grab bag of special interest projects, and not an energy policy.

“So, yes, the efforts are on right now. The store is open. One of our colleagues as we started up here said, What if we do this for it? Yes, the auction still goes on. But I never believed that it was accidental that we didn’t receive this bill until a very short time ago, 1,200 pages. It still has not appeared on our desk – 1,200 pages long, because it will not bear scrutiny. That’s why I’m confident that they will not be able to purchase additional votes to get to 60. But we will keep fighting and make sure that we inform the American people of the provisions of this bill, some of which even we haven’t been able to uncover yet.

“Finally, I have never – it’s on the rarest occasion – it was the rare occasion of Congressman Sununu and – excuse me, Senator Sununu and Senator Schumer having a press conference together. I have very rarely seen the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times on the same editorial position. I have never – on any issue, I have never on any issue seen editorial comment overwhelmingly – I have yet to see an editorial that favored this bill. I am sure there may be one or two. But I’ve never seen overwhelming editorial comment in opposition of a piece of legislation as I saw on this one. And, yes, the fight is not over.

But I have a certain degree of confidence we will prevail.”

Kerry’s statement that “John McCain is a courageous, patriotic American” came when he was questioned about whether he would ask McCain to be his 2004 running mate during an April 7, 2004 CNBC interview.

Kerry’s full comment was: “I’m not going to, you know, get into those considerations at this point in time. I just don’t think it’s appropriate. What I do know is that John McCain is a close and dear friend of mine. I have enormous respect for him. He is a courageous, patriotic American who stands up for what he believes, and–and I’m proud to call him my friend.”

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Republican Jewish Coalition, National Jewish Democratic Council, John Kerry, Ira Forman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chuck Schumer, John McCain, Barack Obama, Patrick Buchanan

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