McCain called for an end to independent advertisements Monday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican presidential hopeful John McCain renewed his call Monday for backers to "cease and desist" supporting independent advertisements intended to benefit his campaign, the kind he has railed against for years as a practice that corrupts the political process.
"If you respect me or my principles, I urge you to refrain from using my name and image in any ads or other activities," McCain said.
Meanwhile, presidential rival Mitt Romney personally went after McCain on this at a stop in Concord, New Hampshire today, saying “it is the height of irony that the author of McCain-Feingold now has his supporters raising apparently vast sums of money, well above any contribution limits that normal citizens see, to support his campaign and it's really quite unfortunate."
But the supporter McCain is singling out, GOP ad maker Rick Reed, tells CNN not only will he keep running an ad now up in South Carolina, he intends expand it to Wisconsin as soon as Tuesday.
McCain is a long time critic of so-called independent expenditures like the controversial "swift boat" ads run against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
Reed helped make those ads.
His group now, "Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America," is a 501 (c) 4 in the tax code, which means it can raise unlimited funds without disclosing the donors.
Reed would not say who his financial backers are, or how much money is being spent on the ad.
The ad, now running in the early presidential contest state of South Carolina, highlights McCain, as well as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Rep. John Shadegg, R-Arizona, for supporting the Wounded Warriors Act, and criticizes Democrats for holding it hostage to "pork barrel spending."
Reed is a long-time supporter of McCain, working for his 2000 presidential campaign and briefly for his 2008 run as well. He has personally donated to McCain's campaign.
McCain's authorship of 2002 campaign finance reform banning so-called "soft money" is unpopular with many conservatives, who call it an affront to the first amendment.
In his statement Monday asking that the independent ad be taken down, McCain said he "will not win this election, nor would I want to win it, by acquiescing in anyone's attempt to put my campaign before my principles."
Reed insists his group is just focused on issues like national security, and McCain is "among the best."
"We would never limit support to any particular campaign's donors. It's a broad issue group that welcomes political adherents of any stripe," Reed tells CNN.
– CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash