Chambliss Defends 2002 Attack Ad That John McCain Called ‘Disgraceful’ And ‘Reprehensible’

Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s (R-GA) re-election camp has confirmed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will campaign for Chambliss in Georgia this week. The incumbent Republican is “locked in a tight runoff with Democrat Jim Martin that will be decided on Dec. 2.”

Chambliss won his Senate seat in 2002 by defeating incumbent Max Cleland (D), a veteran who lost both arms and one leg in Vietnam. Chambliss’s strategy at the time was to paint Cleland as soft on national security. As part of that strategy, he ran a television ad linking Cleland to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. At the time, McCain condemned the ad in the strongest terms:

McCAIN: I’d never seen anything like that ad. Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield — it’s worse than disgraceful. It’s reprehensible.

But on Fox News this week, Chambliss not only defended the ad, calling it a “lightweight ad” and “very fair,” but he also suggested that he would do it again:

CHAMBLISS: You know, that ad is a myth that just hangs around. If people had seen the ads that were run against me by my then opponent, they would think that is a lightweight ad. But, you know, politics is a contact sport. […] We get down and we’re going to do it again. […] [T]hat ad was very fair.

Watch it:

Will the “maverick” McCain remind Chambliss that his 2002 ad was “disgraceful” and urge him to run a “respectful campaign“?