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FactCheck.org Dismantles Another McCain Ad

Anyone who has been following the story of Sen. Barack Obama’s "snub" of wounded American troops during his visit to Germany last week could tell right away that Sen. John McCain’s latest attack ad did not tell the whole tale. In its latest analysis, FactCheck.org, the nonpartisan fact-checking website at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Public Policy, confirms that the ad — like many of McCain’s recent ads — plays fast and loose with the truth.

The ad, titled "Troops," resurrects several misleading claims from a previous ad that were already addressed by FactCheck.org. I’ll move right along to the new stuff. As Obama dribbles a basketball in the background, an announcer says that during his trip overseas, Obama "made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops.* Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras**." *According to FactCheck.org:

It’s a fact that Obama canceled a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at the last minute after planning it for weeks. And it’s a fact that reporters and their cameras would not have been allowed to accompany him. Furthermore, Obama probably did go to the gym that day, as he does practically every day. So the bare facts stated in the ad are true, but they don’t support McCain’s insinuation.

We can’t read minds and so are in no position to know Obama’s motives, or McCain’s for that matter. It’s unlikely, however, that the absence of press coverage would have been a factor in Obama’s decision, as the ad implies. Obama says he never planned to take reporters on the Landstuhl visit, and Department of Defense rules prohibited him from taking reporters on previous visits he made with wounded troops…

The analysis continues by noting that Obama did in fact meet with wounded soldiers along with Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I) — but without the press — a couple of days earlier when he was in Baghdad.

The military’s stated policy is to avoid "[a]ny activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating the [Department of Defense] with a partisan political activity." Members of Congress are allowed to be photographed with the troops and appear with them while serving as public officials, but not as political candidates. When Obama was in Kuwait and Iraq, he was traveling without reporters or campaign staff and visited military installations as part of a Congressional delegation that included Sen. Reed and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Hagel said afterward, on CBS’ "Face the Nation" July 27: "We saw troops everywhere we went on the congressional delegation. We went out of our way to see those troops."

And the basketball footage, which the ad implies was taken in Germany? It was actually shot in Kuwait, where the much-discussed three-pointer took place.

This is now the eighth McCain campaign ad FactCheck.org has cited for presenting misleading or false information in the last month. There’s not much that can be added that we haven’t said before. Taken with the Arizona senator’s repeated assertion that Obama "would rather lose a war than a political campaign" — it is becoming clear that McCain will say whatever he has to, regardless of the truth.

**

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