John McCain: U.S. presidential election, 2008

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John McCain, U.S. Senator (R-Ariz.)
This article is part of the
SourceWatch and Congresspedia coverage
of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and
the 2008 presidential election
Main article:
  • John McCain: U.S. presidential election, 2008

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who ran unsuccessfully for his party's nomination in the 2000 presidential primary, announced February 28, 2007, on CBS's Late Show With David Letterman that in April he will formally announce that "he's running for president." [1]

McCain told Letterman "Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be. ... We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives." [2]

Note: Also see Michelle Malkin on Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's February 12, 2007, comment that "we have now spent $400 billion and has seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted." [3].

McCain "told reporters later that he would visit Iraq before his formal announcement and that his campaign would be about 'whether I have the vision, experience and knowledge to lead the nation.'" [4]

McCain had previously taken several steps towards running for the Republican nomination to run in the 2008 presidential election, including setting up a team and forming an exploratory committee.

McCain's chief strategist, John Weaver has said McCain's efforts to recruit notable supporters gave him "the most active cellphone known to the phone company." [5]



Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America

Fails to support the troops (and "needs to read the Constitution") ...

In July 2007,[1] Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) first introduced a bi-partisan amendment with 31 co-sponsors to Congress [2] "requiring that active-duty troops and units have at least equal time at home as the length of their previous tour overseas. The amendment also sets a minimum 1-to-3 year ratio for National Guard and Reserve members and units."

"Even as Democrats argued that the Webb plan would help military families and give much-needed rest to a depleted military, Republicans were calling the measure 'unconstitutional,' saying Congress has no role in setting the length of troop deployment schedules. GOP leaders argued that the measure would micromanage the Pentagon and serve as a backdoor attempt to get out of Iraq.

"'I think [the Webb amendment] would be catastrophic,' said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the presidential hopeful and ranking member on the Armed Services Committee."[3]

Speaking September 19, 2007, on CNN, Sen. Jim Webb "rebutted McCain's assertion that the Senate has no role in troop deployments:

"'Well, first of all, Sen. McCain, who I’ve known for 30 years, needs to read the Constitution. There is a provision in Article I, Section 8, which clearly gives the Congress the authority to make rules with respect to the ground and naval forces. There’s precedent for this.'"[4]

... then proposes a watered-down version of the amendment

Speaking on the floor of the Senate on September 19, 2007, McCain, "an ardent opponent of a pro-troop measure to relieve the stress on the overstretched armed forces, announced he will propose a toothless, watered-down substitute to the Webb amendment.

"McCain said he and Sen. John Warner (R-VA)[5] have teamed up to put together a 'sense of the Senate' amendment to express 'very clearly that we all want all our troops home and we understand the stress and strain that’s been inflicted on the men and women in the military and the guard and reserves.'

"McCain's rhetoric belies his intentions — to kill the Webb amendment. Webb’s bill would force the Bush administration to provide active duty troops at least the same time at home as the length of their previous tour of duty overseas. After learning of the McCain-Warner proposal, Webb immediately rejected it, stating that the troops don’t need the 'sense of the Congress' but rather 'the will of the Congress':

"I have just learned from Sen. McCain's comments that Sen. Warner will be offering a side-by-side amendment that goes to the sense of the Congress rather than the will of the Congress. And I would like to state emphatically at the outset that this is a situation that calls for the will of the Congress."[6]

McCain caught lying about Iraq report

"General James Jones recently returned from a Congressional-mandated trip to Iraq[7] and reported that political reconciliation 'is absolutely the key to measurable and rapid progress' and needed to happen before any significant reduction in violence could happen," Arlen Parsa wrote September 16, 2007, in The Daily Background.[8] "On Meet The Press today," Parsa wrote, "John McCain incorrectly claimed[9] that General Jones did not conclude in his recent Iraq report that political reconciliation needed to happen before a drawdown in violence can be achieved:

MCCAIN: Tim, I’ve known Jim Jones for 30 years. That’s not what he’s saying.

"In reality, this was exactly what Jones said,[10] both in his report and on Meet The Press a week ago."[8]

McCain's Ties to Shadowy Security Firm Revealed

John McCain makes occasional mention of his friend, Admiral Chuck Larson, whose distinguished career includes the command of nuclear submarines and the management of the Naval Academy.

Not as well known but by no means concealed is Larson’s link to Washington’s ViaGlobal Group, the successor company to ViaFinance and Galway Partners.

ViaGlobal was serving as the “business incubator” for Rosetta Research and Consulting LLC, best known as the company involved in luring Afghan tribal chieftain and accused drug kingpin Haji Bashar Noorzai to the U.S., where he was arrested in April of 2005.

One of Rosetta’s Department of Defense sponsors, believed to be a senior staff member in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, brokered an introduction to CNN military commentator General David Grange, who serves as an advisor to ViaGlobal.

Grange made the initial arrangements between Rosetta, represented by former Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman partner and ex-NSC attorney Joseph Myers, now with the International Monetary Fund, and ViaGlobal’s chairman, Frank Gren.

Another former Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman partner, Carole Van Cleefe, brokered a deal between Rosetta and Oracle. Oracle project managers Barbara Bleiweiss and Peter Bloom attempted to establish a joint venture using an existing contract vehicle with the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF), but was unsuccessful due to Rosetta’s cost demands.

Gren and his colleagues sought to obtain additional funding for Rosetta, as millions of dollars in investment money had been spent on payments to secure the confidence of Noorzai. Myers, Gren, and others sought sources of funding such as a contract with the FBI as well as an investment from fallen tobacco lawyer Dickie Scruggs.

ViaGlobal appears to have used McCain, acting through staffer Chris Paul, to divert a 2004 FBI internal investigation into dealings between Rosetta contractors and certain FBI employees. This was the subject of a meeting held with the FBI’s Deputy Director John Pistole in late 2004.

In mid 2006, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General conducted an investigation into criminal activities of the same FBI employees. Rosetta’s phone, email, and contractual records were subpoenaed. In addition, several Rosetta officials and advisors were questioned for several weeks.

Papers filed as part of the Noorzai case show that Rosetta, acting under the orders of senior U.S. officials, promised Noorzai he would not be arrested. Rosetta also paid substantial sums to various foreign government officials who then lied to Noorzai about the actual purpose of the meetings. Noorzai had been indicted as a drug kingpin, and since efforts to secure his cooperation in other matters had failed, the decision was made to bring him to the United States and arrest him.

The papers also show that Rosetta sought and obtained in excess of ten million dollars from investors, who believed they were investing in a security company. Instead, the money was being used to finance the lavish and extensive travel needed to locate Noorzai and gain his confidence. The investors are understandably upset, but since the Rosetta principals are known only as “Mike” and “Brian” no success has been had in locating them.

Rosetta also had improper relationships with a handful of FBI employees, who were later investigated for contributing to Rosetta’s alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices and Neutrality Acts.

As part of the incubation arrangement, ViaGlobal sought to obtain ownership of Rosetta’s proprietary database of terrorist financiers as well as access to the extensive network of contacts in the Middle East developed as part of the dealings with Noorzai.

McCain the "Episcopalian", then a "Baptist", now a "Christian"

McCain, "who has long identified himself as an Episcopalian", while campaigning in predominantly Baptist South Carolina, "said this weekend that he is a Baptist and has been for years," the Associated Press reported September 17, 2007.[11]

McCain told reporters that "he and his family have been members of the North Phoenix Baptist Church in his home state of Arizona for more than 15 years. ... While McCain has long talked about his family's and his own attendance at the Arizona church, he appears to have consistently referred to himself as Episcopalian in media reports."[11]

"[F]ollowing two campaign stops" in the "early voting state of Arizona" on September 17, 2007, McCain told reporters that "questions over whether he identifies himself as a Baptist or an Episcopalian are not as important as his overarching faith. 'The most important thing is that I am a Christian'," the Associated Press reported.[12]

McCain's newly-found "Swift Boat" connection

On June 26, 2007, McCain, "who in 2004 called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisements 'dishonest and dishonorable,' will hold a fundraiser ... hosted by former Swift Boater Paul Galanti. Galanti never served with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), but surfaced in 2004 to call Kerry a 'traitor,' and appear in television commercials with 'those who stooped to questioning the seriousness of Kerry’s war wounds.'"[13]

"So, as is so often the case with John McCain, more and more questions arise about who he really is, what he really stands for and what the word 'integrity' actually means to him," Bob Geiger wrote.[14]

"Is John Kerry his friend or his enemy? Did the Massachusetts Senator serve as honorably as the record shows -- and as Senator McCain himself says Kerry did -- or was he a 'traitor' who single-handedly extended the Vietnam war by coming home and telling the truth?

"And finally, is there a shred of the courage and character that allowed him to survive those long years in a Vietnamese POW camp left in John McCain? Or is he just another cynical office-seeker, with no moral compass, who will do absolutely anything for a buck?", Geiger asks.[15]

On defending the war in Iraq

On funding the war: McCain vs. Obama

"surge" plan in Iraq

Security plan working

On April 2, 2007, the day after Senator McCain and a Congressional delegation—which included Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.)—"pointed to their brief [one-hour] visit to Baghdad’s central market as evidence that the new security plan for the city was working, the merchants there were incredulous about the Americans' conclusions," Kirk Semple reported in the New York Times.

McCain's entourage was accompanied by "more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees — the equivalent of an entire company — and attack helicopters circled overhead," Semple wrote. "The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit."

Although the delegation "spoke glowingly" and described the market "as a safe, bustling place full of hopeful and warmly welcoming Iraqis — 'like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime'," according to Pence [6], the news conference itself was "held in the very, very, very heavily secured Green Zone, the center city area of Baghdad." [7] The same Bab al-Sharqi market they visited "was hit by a suicide bomber on Jan. 22 [and at] least 88 people died in the attack." [8]

Semple wrote that "witnesses said" that the "Americans were buttonholed by merchants and customers who wanted to talk about how unsafe they felt and the urgent need for more security in the markets and throughout the city". According to Ali Jassim Faiyad, "the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, ... 'The security procedures were abnormal! ... They paralyzed the market when they came, ... This was only for the media'."

Related articles on the "surge plan"

Oldest first-term president

McCain's 70th birthday is on August 29, 2006 and, if elected, he would be the oldest first-term president in US history. Columnist Steven Thomma wrote on August 23, 2006, "Whether this changes the presidential campaign probably will depend on whether McCain appears healthy and vigorous - and thus up to the unique demands of the job - or not... That would put him in uncharted political territory should he win the presidency: No one older than 70 has ever moved into the White House." [9]


McCain to launch "No Surrender Tour"

McCain plans to launch a 'No Surrender Tour' "in the near future, featuring veterans, medal of honor winners, and those who have served in Iraq. The schedule should be set by Labor Day, and they'll be blogging from the bus," Jim Geraghty of the National Review Online's the campaign spot reported August 20, 2007, following a Bloggers' Roundtable interview with McCain.[16]

McCain's "veterans, medal of honor winners, and those who have served in Iraq" are quite possibly based within the pro-war in Iraq Republican front group Vets for Freedom. In early August 2007, at the O'Brien County, Iowa, Republican Summer Gala, VFF's National Field Director, Joel A. Arends, acted as McCain's "surrogate".[17]

During his August 20, 2007, interview with the Bloggers' Roundtable, McCain added "Our first goal is to shore up our shaky Republicans. They’ll never get to sixty votes if we can shore up our shaky Republicans. Second of all, we've got to have demonstrations of support around the country., Ms Sheehan have been very visible on the public scene as anti-war activists. We need to crank up support. We need to make clear the consequences of failure, make sure the public understands this is part of our struggle against Islamic extremism, that if we leave, Iraq will become a base for al-Qaeda and they will follow us home."

McCain's new rhetoric is in line with that espoused by VFF. Via viral emails, Pete Hegseth, VFF's Executive Director, said that VFF "plans to lead the charge to support General Petraeus and stop anti-war radicals and politicians—Democrats (and some Republicans) on Capitol Hill—from undermining the troops-and their mission-for the sake of short-term political gain."[18]

"Despite the great courage and success of our troops in Iraq, many Senate Republicans are wavering in their support for the mission. And in the past two weeks alone, 3 Republican senators have raised the white flag on Iraq. If just a few more defect, the Senate could over-ride a presidential veto and set a deadline for defeat."

At the beginning of August 2007, VFF began sponsoring 60-second TV ads thanking Congressmen for their support and another series of ads admonishing Congressmen not to surrender their votes on Iraq. VFF, at the culmination of its "Win the War! Victory in Iraq" campaign, plans to join Move America Forward, Gathering of Eagles, Free Republic and other pro-war groups in D.C. in mid September 2007 around the time that Gen. David Petraeus will deliver his report to Congress on the status of the war in Iraq.[19]

On the campaign trail


Campaign manager

In December 2006, McCain "signed up GOP operative Terry Nelson as his campaign manager -- yep, that would be the same Terry Nelson who produced the infamous, racially-charged 'bimbo' ad attacking Dem Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr.," Greg Sargent wrote[20] at TPM Cafe.

In a July 10, 2007, press release, Nelson announced that he would be leaving McCain's campaign only a week after announcing "that he would be working for free, after it was revealed that the campaign had just $2 million cash on hand," Mark Murray wrote in MSNBC's First Read.[21] McCain's "longtime political adviser" and chief strategist, John Weaver, also resigned.

Nelson and Weaver's "terse statements announcing their departures from the McCain camp, ... reportedly came after the candidate erupted after concluding that his top-level advisers had mismanaged the operation," Dan Balz wrote in the Washington Post.[22] "An angry McCain reportedly confronted Weaver and Nelson about the campaign's operations, particularly the amount of money that was being spent even when it was clear funds were tight. The final confrontation, coming after McCain returned from a visit to Iraq over the weekend, ultimately led to their departures, according to sources."

National political director

Michael P. Dennehy, McCain's national political director, "will step away from day-to-day duties at the campaign, telling associates [May 7, 2007] that his family obligations conflicted with his arduous, 24/7 political job in Washington, D.C.," according to The Politico. [10]

"Rob Jesmer, an ex-COS to Rep. Mike Rogers who has extensive field and political experience at the NRCC and RNC, has been appointed political director. And Dennehy will still play a major role in the campaign: he'll be the lead consultant on early primary states and is tasked with making sure McCain repeats his victory in New Hampshire." [11]

Media team

McCain's chief political strategist, John Weaver, confirmed that Nicco Mele, webmaster of Howard Dean's Dean for America, made a commitment to help McCain's 2008 run. Mele's firm, EchoDitto, claims more than twenty big Democratic and left-leaning organizations and candidates as clients. [12]

According to Weaver, Mike Connell of New Media Communications, Inc., who "designed, developed and managed" the Bush-Cheney '04 Inc. campaign's websites in 2000 and 2004, has also committed to McCain. [13]

Max Fose, McCain's webmaster in 2000, and "GOP technological entrepreneur" Becki Donatelli, CEO of Campaign Solutions, who helped to coordinate online fundraising for McCain in 2000 are also reportedly on McCain's 2008 team. [14]

Campaign advisers

  • Robert B. Zoellick, former deputy secretary of state, is "planning to join" McCain's presidential next year, "overseeing development of domestic and foreign policy, Republican officials tell TIME," Mike Allen reported August 23, 2006. Zoellick is "leaving the State Department this summer, and said he is delighted to advise the prospective campaign."
  • According to John M. Broder, writing in the August 18, 2006, New York Times, the following are members of McCain's campaign team: (See insert.)

McCain's "Inner Circle"

"From the Bush Team"

Policy advisers

Foreign policy advisers

McCain is "also being advised on foreign policy by neoconservatives. McCain is supported by Robert Kagan, a noted American Enterprise Institute chickenhawk and the author of the surge policy, and former CIA director Jim Woolsey, who, like [Norman] Podhoretz, has called for a World War against Islam. Leading neocon lobbyist Randy Scheunemann, who headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and was on the board of the Project for the New American Century, completes the McCain foreign policy and security team. McCain also had considerable interaction with neocon elder statesman Richard Perle in the early days of his campaign. Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Henry Kissinger are also reported to be giving McCain advice."[23]

In October 2007, the Washington Post listed the following as McCain's foreign policy advisers.[24]

Other advisers

Campaign finance


McCain announced on November 12, 2008 that he would form an exploratory committee for his presidential run. Exploratory committees allow a presidential candidate to begin raising money for their campaign before officially filing to become a candidate. [15]


Public Citizen relaunched the WhiteHouseForSale website for the 2008 elections.

As of July 27, 2007, John McCain had 440 bundlers for a total of $25,895,764.00 raised. Follow John McCain's total funds raised and a list of bundlers and amount raised here.

Controversial Donors

Check the facts

FundRace 2008, The Huffington Post's searchable database: "FundRace makes it easy to search by name or address to see which presidential candidates your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors are contributing to. Or you can see if your favorite celebrity is putting their money where their mouth is."


Anti-McCain campaigns

Resources and articles

See also


  1. Monisha Bansal, "Webb to Reintroduce 'Dwell Time' for Troops," Cybercast News Service, September 13, 2007.
  2. "Webb Amendment Supports Troops Through Responsible Deployment Cycles," Office of Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), July 9, 2007.
  3. Manu Raju, "Webb’s Iraq bill inches closer to 60," The Hill, September 19, 2007.
  4. Amanda Terkel, "Webb Slams McCain’s Opposition To His Pro-Troop Amendment: He 'Needs To Read The Constitution'," Think Progress, September 19, 2007.
  5. Greg Sargent, "GOP Senator Warner 'Reconsidering' Support For Webb Troop Bill," TPM Election Central, September 18, 2007.
  6. Faiz Shakir, "BREAKING: Warner, McCain To Propose Toothless, Watered-Down Version Of Webb Amendment," Think rogress, September 19, 2007.
  7. Karen DeYoung, "Iraqi Army Unable To Take Over Within A Year, Report Says. Breakup of National Police Is Urged," Washington Post, September 6, 2007.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Arlen Parsa, "Video-John McCain caught lying on Iraq report," The Daily Background, September 16, 2007.
  9. Transcript: Meet the Press, MSNBC, September 16, 2007: "Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John McCain, Chris Cillizza, and Chuck Todd." See YouTube video posted at AMERICAblog and "McCain Falsely Claims Jones Report Doesn’t Say Political Reconciliation Is ‘Key’ To Progress In Iraq," with video, at Think Progress, September 17, 2007.
  10. Transcript: Meet the Press, MSNBC, September 9, 2007: "Ret. General James Jones, Chief Charles Ramsey, Sen. Joe Biden, David Brody, and John Harwood."
  11. 11.0 11.1 Bruce Smith, "McCain: I'm a Baptist," Associated Press (, September 17, 2007.
  12. "McCain still trying to explain what faith he is, if any," AMERICAblog, September 17, 2007.
  13. "McCain to hold fundraiser with Swift Boat Vet," Think Progress, June 25, 2007.
  14. Bob Geiger, "McCain To Hold Fundraiser With Swift Boater," BobGeiger Blogspot, June 25, 2007.
  15. Bob Geiger, "McCain To Hold Fundraiser With Swift Boater," BobGeiger Blogspot, June 25, 2007.
  16. Jim Geraghty, "John McCain," the campaign spot/National Review Online, August 20, 2007.
  17. Don McDowell, "O'Brien County Republican Summer Gala," Cyclone Conservatives Blogspot, August 9, 2007.
  18. "Vets for Freedom... Win the War?", SWAC Girl Blog, July 12, 2007.
  19. "Win the War! Victory in Iraq," Vets for Freedom, SourceWatch.
  20. Greg Sargent, "McCain hires producer of Harold Ford Bimbo Ad as Campaign Manager," Election Central/TPM Cafe, December 7, 2006.
  21. Mark Murray, "Top McCain Advisers Leave His Campaign," First Read/MSNBC, July 10, 2007.
  22. Dan Balz, "Top McCain Aides Quit Struggling Campaign," Washington Post, July 10, 2007.
  23. Philip Giraldi, "Neolibs and Neocons, United and Interchangeable,", August 14, 2007. Emphasis added.
  24. 24.00 24.01 24.02 24.03 24.04 24.05 24.06 24.07 24.08 24.09 24.10 24.11 24.12 24.13 24.14 24.15 24.16 24.17 24.18 24.19 24.20 24.21 24.22 24.23 24.24 24.25 24.26 24.27 24.28 24.29 24.30 24.31 24.32 24.33 24.34 24.35 "The War Over the Wonks," Washington Post, October 2, 2007.



External articles