How low will they go?
Two liberal groups â€“ one of them directed by a brother of the Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean â€“ will begin running a graphic attack advertisement Thursday morning raising questions about Senator John McCain’s health. Showing vivid and unflattering images of the fresh scar that appeared on Senator McCain’s face immediately after his last operation for melanoma skin cancer eight years ago, the commercial ends with a screen headline that reads, “Why won’t John McCain release his medical records?” (Mr. McCain, 72, did invite a limited group of reporters to inspect more than 1,100 pages of his medical records in May, though he gave them only a three-hour window in which to review the documents.)
The commercial is among the harshest to run against Mr. McCain yet, seeking to exploit the sensitive issues of health and age. Officials with the groups running the ad, Brave New PAC and Democracy for America, said they were only showing the spot initially on MSNBC over the next few days, a limited run intended to draw news media attention on a network that has increasingly catered to liberal tastes.
Officials at the groups, both of which are political action committees that rely on individual donors, said they hoped to show the spot on stations in battleground states in the coming weeks as well. But it is unclear if individual stations will accept the spot: Leighton Akio Woodhouse, a spokesman for Brave New PAC, said late Wednesday that CNN declined to accept the commercial after reviewing its contents this week.
The ad comes from the same two groups that recently released an advertisement questioning whether Mr. McCain’s time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam adversely affected his ability to lead.
And it just gets worse:
Brave New PAC is affiliated with California-based filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who runs several entities out of his “Brave New” office complex in Culver City; one of them, Brave New Foundation, a non-profit group that runs social issues campaigns, has as the chairman of its board Lawrence Lessig, a prominent Stanford Law School professor who has served as an informal adviser to Mr. Obama on technology policy issues.
Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said the campaign had nothing to do with the spots and that Mr. Lessig had only advised Mr. Obama during the primaries, not in the general election. Mr. Woodhouse, the spokesman for Brave New PAC, said that Mr. Lessig is only affiliated with the Brave New Foundation, which operates in isolation from the political action committee. “There’s a fire wall there,” he said. “He has no relation to any of the projects we’re doing through the PAC.”
The spot opens with a photograph of Mr. McCain sporting a band aid over the scar on the left side of his face that caused by his surgery to remove the skin cancer in 2000, and the words, “John McCain is 72 and had cancer four times.”
One of two medical doctors featured in the spot, Dr. Michael D. Fratkin, says, “The relevance of knowing the details of his course with melanoma are very important.” He adds that another bout of cancer would “profoundly impact his capacity to lead.” The spot goes on to show two other unflattering pictures of Mr. McCain’s fresh scar.
What was it Howard Dean said back in April about Democrats and targeting McCain on the basis of his age?
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Thursday that his party is unlikely to make Sen. John McCain’s age an issue in the fall presidential election. The Arizona Republican will be 72 in August.
“I doubt we will bring it up in the election,” said Dean, dismissing the idea as a tactic Republicans might employ but Democrats never would. “There is somewhat of a higher ethical bar on what we do,” Dean said. “We don’t have any Lee Atwaters or Karl Roves on our side.”