McCain may be guilty of the first charge: As the financial crisis exploded, the Arizona senator suspended his campaign, then quickly backtracked, all the while offering no substantive proposals for righting the nation's economy. But as for the second claim, Bush had only a 25 percent approval rating in the run-up to the election. It's easy to understand why McCain would have wanted to avoid the association.
Politico offers a few nuggets from the memoir -- which goes on sale Tuesday -- and suggests McCain also distanced himself from Bush because of the acrimonious 2000 Republican primary.
After McCain won the New Hampshire primary, Bush was on the defensive. If McCain had won in South Carolina, which many pundits thought likely, Bush likely would not have been able to recover. So he turned to the smear tactics that recalled the worst of South Carolina's own dirty trickster, the late political strategist Lee Atwater.
Through his lieutenants, including Karl Rove (an Atwater protege), the Bush campaign devised a push poll in which voters were asked, "Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?"
But Bush wasn't done. His supporters distributed fliers to South Carolina voters labeling McCain as "the fag candidate," according to The Alaska Report. They spread rumors that he cheated on his wife and labeled her as a drug addict. They also said he had committed treason during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
The strategy worked. Bush won South Carolina, the Republican nomination and the presidency. So, while the two men made nice on a few occasions during the Bush presidency, it's difficult to imagine that McCain didn't hold a grudge in 2008, just as Bush apparently still does.
Read more at Politico.
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