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February 21, 2008

Romney Camp Pushed McCain-Iseman Story?

ABC News blog Political Radar suggests that the Romney campaign was pushing this story:

ABC News' John Berman Reports: The remnants of the Romney campaign are shaking their heads this morning.

For months they were whispering about a New York Times investigation into John McCain's ties to a certain lobbyist.

They would poke and prod reporters to see if they had heard anything new about when and if the New York Times would publish the story.

On Thursday, while no one would allow their name to be published, several former advisers lamented the timing of the story, one suggesting, "If this piece had run before New Hampshire, McCain would have lost. If it had run before Florida, he would have lost."

I don't have much to add about this that Drew didn't already say: "meh." The point of the story is to make credulous and cynical readers believe that McCain was having an affair with a lobbyist and that he let the relationship influence his activities in the Capitol Building. Note, however, that it doesn't actually say that.

Instead, the explicit claim of the story is that McCain's staff thought there was a relationship and, horrors, he once wrote letters to some of her clients. Also, the quotes from the one and only McCain adviser to go on record in the NYTimes story are entirely focused on the political consequences of having a lobbyist with close ties to the campaign:

John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.

“Our political messaging during that time period centered around taking on the special interests and placing the nation’s interests before either personal or special interest,” Mr. Weaver continued. “Ms. Iseman’s involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort.”

No mention of a romantic relationship there. But given the previous 3,000 words, it's easy to jump to an inaccurate conclusion. As others have responded, "Where's the beef?" It seems the Times sent four reporters and two researchers (at least) on a wild goose chase after a story that was eight years old. When they came up with nothing to show for months of effort, they stitched together this pile of innuendo.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:37 PM

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