WASHINGTON—The McCain campaign on Monday is seizing on criticism retired Gen. Wesley Clark made about the qualifications of presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) to launch a “McCain truth squad” and to raise questions about the resume of rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and whether he stands for a new kind of politics.
On Sunday, during an appearence on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Clark, appearing as an Obama surrogate, said of McCain’s military record. "I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.” He said that while McCain has been a force on the Senate Armed Services Committee “and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded -- that wasn't a wartime squadron."
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Obama communications chief Robert Gibbs distanced the Obama campaign from Clark’s remarks, saying he didn’t speak for Obama. "Obviously those are the comments of Wesley Clark, those are not the comments of Barack Obama. Again, Barack Obama always talks about John McCain in a setting by mentioning the service he's given to this country," Gibbs said.
Appearing after Gibbs on Morning Joe, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said , "I think you have to question why the Barack Obama campaign would place Wesley Clark on that show as an official surrogate of their campaign with an understanding that he is likely to talk in this fashion about John McCain's service to our country."
The McCain campaign organized a conference call on Monday morning to talk about McCain’s military record in the wake of comments by Clark.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said “It would be good if (Obama) would condemn those remarks….it’s been clear over time now…his words don’t really match up with the reality of how he has run his campaign.”\
Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) said he knew Clark well, had traveled with him, and was “utterly shocked” at how Clark talked “in a disrespectful way” to “attack a fellow career officer.”
Retired Col. Bud Day talked about McCain’s dealings with foreign leaders and said, “Sen. Obama to me may one day have the good fortune to engage in foreign leaders”…or to be “as well read” as McCain “but it does not exist right now.”