As John McCain and his campaign are angrily defending the candidate against the New York Times’ insinuation that he had what some considered an inappropriate relationship with telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman back in 2000, it seems as if the allegations just might be helping his campaign gain the support of conservatives who don’t like him but hate the New York Times even more.
It remains to be seen how long this “enemy-of-my-enemy” alliance lasts, but McCain can surely count on the continued support of Gary Bauer, who so far appears to be the only Religious Right leader coming to his defense:
And former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, a McCain supporter, calls The Times report “yellow journalism at its worst.”
“That is the cut-and-smear type of journalism that we see more and more in U.S. politics. There’s nothing in the story specific; they just leave an impression,” says Bauer. “And certainly the lobbyist — the female lobbyist, in this case — is not making any allegations about Senator McCain.”
According to Bauer, McCain and his wife seemed very calm at the press conference, but they were “obviously angry and disappointed that they would have to go through this.”
Several people have come forward with claims of having inappropriate sexual relationships with a number of “headline” liberal candidates, adds Bauer, but The New York Times has chosen not to run those stories. Bauer also notes that in 2004 there was an attempt by CBS News to air a last-minute report suggesting Bush had avoided the draft, yet it turned out to be a complete fabrication for which the network later had to apologize.
Bauer also suggests the report may be an effort by the newspaper to further damage McCain’s relationship with some conservative Christians. “Often it seems pretty clear that the real audience is Christian conservatives,” he states. “That is, left-wing newspapers will go after conservative politicians in order to undermine them with Christian conservatives.”
He recalls that in 2000 — literally days before the presidential election — there were reports that George W. Bush had been arrested for drunk driving in New Hampshire years earlier. According to Bauer, subsequent research showed that report cost Bush millions of votes and almost cost him the presidency.
Elsewhere, Bauer suggested that the article, rather than harming the McCain campaign, will ultimately help it:
Gary Bauer, the president of American Values, an Arlington, Virginia-based family advocacy group who has endorsed McCain, said the report has not made him rethink his support.
“Senator McCain and his wife clearly and directly addressed the baseless charges,” Bauer said in an interview. “People remember other such media efforts against Republican candidates that have proven to be false and this could very well cause a backlash of support for him.”
What “other such media efforts against Republican candidates” do you suppose he is referring to? Perhaps the ones that dogged him back in 1999 when he was running for president? Of course, those reports didn’t create any sort of “backlash of support” for him and he dropped out of the race just a few months later.