Democrats mix criticism of McCain with praise

April 2, 2008

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Republican Sen. John McCain’s personal narrative as a war hero in Vietnam has Democrats treading carefully when they criticize him. 

Instead of trading barbs with each other, Democratic White House hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton this week have trained their attention on McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. 

mccain21.jpgObama, an Illinois senator, and Clinton, a New York senator, have assailed McCain for his support for the Iraq war and his backing of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. 

But they have made clear the attacks are not personal. 

Just before accusing McCain of lacking an understanding of how to fix the struggling economy and of pushing policies that amount to “standing on the sidelines” of the housing crisis, Obama at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, commended McCain for his service to his country. 

“Most of us know his biography and it is worthy of admiration. This is a man who is a genuine American hero and has served his country with distinction,” Obama said. 

“My argument with John McCain is not his biography. It’s with his policies,” he added. 

Clinton adopted a similar tone in Philadelphia on Tuesday, where she addressed a crowd of union workers. Just before she accused McCain of being just like Bush on labor issues, she too paused to give the former POW his due. 

“After seven disastrous years of George Bush and Dick Cheney, the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher, and the need to change course couldn’t be more urgent,” she said. 

“But I’m here to tell you Senator John McCain, a friend of mine, someone whose service to our country I admire, is only offering more of the same,” she said. 

McCain was serving as a Navy pilot when his plane was shot down over Hanoi. He spent 5-1/2 years as a prisoner of war, where he was tortured. 

McCain’s service during Vietnam is in the spotlight this week as he takes a tour focusing on his life story.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (McCain speaks during a town hall meeting in Alexandria, Virginia) 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

4 comments

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I guess you can say that torture is ‘harsh treatment.’

biographies don’t win elections
straight talk doesn’t win elections either.
He is for the war. He doesn’t understand
the economy.He cannot differentiate between shiite
and sunni, the same ignorance that linked al qaeda and iraq and has costed us 4000 lives and probably he hasnt realised that the 100 year war that he is pushing for is partly the reason we are in deep economic crisis
what really does John Mc Cain stand for?
can anyone help me with this?

Posted by joe ombima | Report as abusive

I think that during the general election the Democratic nominee should say once that “John McCain is a genuine war hero” and every time he mentions his name it will be implied. How many times do we have to hear this ? You would think that he is the only prisoner of all time. I mean how many other prisoners were there with him? Can anybody name one ? He has been milking this for a long time.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

McCain, a war hero? What’s so heroic about dropping bombs on innocent people from on high? Vietnam was no threat to the United States just as Iraq was not a threat. Not only does he want us to continue the carnage in Iraq, this “hero” now makes jokes about attacking Iran as well. Keep McNasty on a leash out in Arizona.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive