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McCain Touts Dems for McCain

Fresh off a dramatic run of TV ads savaging Sen. Barack Obama, today the McCain campaign is changing gears with a web ad that gets downright chummy with Obama and a fleet of Democrats. The video features shots of progressive favorites like Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, vanquished Democratic contenders like Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who now advises Obama — and even a cameo from the presumptive Democratic nominee himself. And they all heap praise on Sen. John McCain.

McCain’s press office explains the concept:

The ad highlights major Obama supporters praising John McCain’s record of working across the aisle to get results for the American people. If we are to move America forward, we need a president who will put partisanship aside to do what’s right for the American people.

The shoutouts begin with standard Washington bromides: "Great guy" (Feingold) "Great friend" (Sen. Joseph Biden) "Patriotic American" (Kerry). Nothing new there; you can find senators saying every last one of their colleagues is great during a floor speech. Then things get warmer. Biden says he would like to run with McCain. Obama testifies that he came to Washington to follow McCain’s approach on regulating greenhouse gases. The finale is an attack from Clinton, touting McCain’s "lifetime of experience" in contrast to Obama, who only "has a speech he gave in 2002."

The ad isn’t for voters, really. It’s aimed more for the press and political junkies — so it can be talked about as free media. But it could also give Democrats a gut check. If Biden and Kerry want to advance a united Democratic front, they have to do it without gushing about their colleague. And if Clinton actually wants to help elect Obama, she should be the first surrogate rebutting a cynical attempt to suggest that she and other Democrats prefer McCain. But she’s busy planning her trip to Denver.

John Amato, who runs the popular video website Crooks and Liars, has criticized Democrats like Kerry for overdoing the McCain praise. After watching Kerry praise McCain this Sunday on "Meet the Press," he sarcastically blogged, "I have an idea, why doesn’t John Kerry make a campaign ad for John McCain and praise his service?" So today I asked Amato what he thinks of the new McCain ad. "It’s very frustrating watching Democrats fall all over themselves, making sure to praise John McCain in the media before they then disagree with his policies," he said via email, "while John McCain and the entire GOP try to define Obama as a light-weight, arugula-loving elitist who’s not qualified to lead." And there’s nothing praiseworthy about that.

Update: John Kerry released a response to the ad:

The McCain campaign is determined to give their Paris Hilton ad a run for its money in the desperation department, and they’ve succeeded only in shining a light on the fact that the John McCain of today is unrecognizable from the John McCain of just a couple years ago. The real

question is what happened to the John McCain we used to know and why he changed overnight into a George Bush nominee with a Karl Rove campaign. The new John McCain supports the Bush tax giveaways for the wealthy he once denounced, opposes his own immigration bill, flip-flopped on torture and runs negative ads after calling for an honorable campaign. Frankly, it tells you everything about this election that the McCain campaign spins its wheels recycling what we said about John McCain way back when, while scrambling and sputtering to explain away Gov. Pawlenty’s praise of Barack Obama today.

PRODUCTION NOTES: The ad opens by touting McCain as a "maverick," as demonstrated by all this apparent support from a wide range of Democrats. Upbeat guitar riffs compliment clips of Democrats from TV interviews, congressional appearances and press conferences. (Year of remarks: Daschle, 2000; Biden, 2005; Kerry, 2004; Dean, 2003; Feingold, 2006; Obama, 2007; Clinton, 2008.)

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