During an interview with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on MSNBC this afternoon, host Andrea Mitchell noted that John McCain is campaigning for him in Georgia today even though McCain had strongly condemned one of his 2002 attack ads. That ad linked his opponent, Max Cleland, to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
Earlier this week, Chambliss defended the ad, calling it “a lightweight ad” and “very fair.” Today, Mitchell gave him another opportunity to repent, but Chambliss wouldn’t bite:
MITCHELL: Do you have any regrets in retrospect?
CHAMBLISS: You know, Andrea, that ad is truthful in every way. […] He voted against George Bush eleven times on the issue of homeland security. […] You have to remember the two most notible terrorists in the world at that point in time were Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. We were trying to protect the homeland. We were trying to create an agency that was going to protect Americans and in fact we did that, we did it without Cleland’s vote.
But the ad is not truthful. Chambliss claims that Cleland voted against vital homeland security efforts but in fact, Cleland was voting against a provision in a homeland security measure that would have stripped away the collective bargaining rights of federal employees — many of whom would form the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Of course, Cleland’s homeland security votes in no way linked him to either bin Laden or Saddam.
Cleland not only voted to authorize the use of military force in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, but he also co-sponsored legislation introduced in May 2002 that called for the creation of a cabinet-level DHS.
Thus, Chambliss’s claims that the attack ad was “very fair” and “truthful in every way” ring hollow. Even John McCain knows that.