McCain's 'Double Talk' Hit From Both Sides

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), often described as a “maverick” by the media, has been duly dealt blows from both the right and the left by groups who find hypocrisy in the senator’s “straight talk.”

Straight Talk America is the name of McCain’s presidential campaign committee, a spin-off from the well-known “Straight Talk Express” bus he toured on during his 2000 presidential campaign. On the “Straight Talk Express” reporters enjoyed full-access to McCain and nothing was “off the record.”

But, yesterday two groups claimed McCain’s “straight talk” is a sham.

Brave New Films, a left-leaning film-making company that has produced Michael Moore style “documentaries” about Wal-Mart, FOX News and the Iraq War unveiled a short video online showing McCain making contradictory statements on several issues that include gay marriage and the religious right.

Producer Robert Greenwald calls the nearly three-minute video that contains spliced clips from several news shows “John McCain vs. John McCain.” Contrasting statements are put together to make McCain appear to be a “flip-flopper” as John Kerry was by Republican groups when he ran for president in 2004.

The video is posted on and is accompanied by an anti-McCain blog written by Cliff Schecter. Before writing his attack blog, Schecter was a pollster for President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, raised money for former Gov. Mark Warner (D.-Va.) and was a consultant for the DNC and the DCCC.

Sinking numbers in the latest Rasmussen poll that show McCain at 52% approval (down from 59% in December) caused Schecter to headline his latest blog “Bad News for ‘Double Talk’ McCain.”

The liberal blogger wrote “It seems all his double talk has started to hurt him in the polls…Although, it could have also been the Iraq escalation, which every sentient being opposes, or possibly the fact that he was one of 28 Republican Senators to vote in favor of ELIMINATING the federal minimum wage.”

Similarly, the right-leaning Center for Individual Freedom issued a press release that wondered “whether the ‘Straight Talk Express’ has taken a U-turn.”

The group has been putting pressure on McCain to answer if he will accept funding from the presidential public financing system in his 2008 White House bid. McCain has been repeatedly targeted by conservatives for collaborating with Sen. Russ Feingold (D.-Wis.) to impose new campaign finance laws in 2001 that included a pre-election ban on “issue advertisements” and limits on “soft money.”

Democrat White House contender Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) ruled out the possibility of using public funding for her campaign because of the spending limits that are attached of it.

If McCain makes the same decision, he will be forced to answer questions related to his support of the public financing system, of which he sponsored legislation in 2003 to expand. Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) has also supported the public financing system in the past, but has not said if he will accept the public money and spending caps associated with it.

In a November 19, 2006 interview on ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked McCain, “As you look to a Presidential campaign you’ve been a great advocate for campaign finance reform. If you choose to run, will you stay inside the public financing or go around it?”

“I don’t think-it depends, on what other candidates might do,” McCain said.

A letter written by CFIF to McCain on January 29 said, “Senator McCain, as the Senate’s chief ‘campaign finance reformer,’ you have an obligation to the American people to clearly state your intentions on this issue regardless of ‘what other candidates might do.”

Potentially further drawing criticism from conservatives is McCain’s decision to decline an invitation from the Republican Study Committee to speak at their annual retreat this weekend.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be speaking, as will former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) and former Sen. Phil Gramm (R.-Tex.).