March 2nd, 2008
06:11 PM ET
10 years ago

Dean hits McCain's integrity: 'He doesn't seem to have any'

DNC Chairman Howard Dean targeted Sen. John McCain Sunday on CNN's Late Edition.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean targeted Sen. John McCain Sunday on CNN's Late Edition.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean stepped up his verbal assault on Republican presidential front-runner John McCain on Sunday, questioning the Arizona senator's integrity.

"Here's a guy who's a typical situational ethicist. He runs on his integrity, but he doesn't seem to have any," Dean told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

The Democratic chairman has spent a week pounding McCain - one of the architects of 2001's McCain-Feingold campaign finance law - over his attempt to opt out of public financing for his Republican primary campaign. In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission last week, Dean accused McCain of using the promise of federal funds to obtain a bank loan and automatic ballot access for his presidential bid while dodging federal spending limits.

"John McCain has a history of doing what it takes, regardless of what the ethics of this are," Dean said. "I think he's going to be a flawed candidate."

There was no immediate response to Dean's broadside from McCain's campaign.

The FEC has asked McCain's campaign to explain the terms of his loan, but the agency won't be able to resolve the matter until four vacancies on the six-member commission are filled. The campaign has said it acted legally, and did nothing more than what the Dean's 2004 presidential campaign did in rejecting public funding - an argument Dean says isn't true.

Dean said McCain "has a problem with personal integrity," citing his onetime ties to jailed savings-and-loan executive Charles Keating and his refusal to reject the support of televangelist John Hagee. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has criticized McCain for accepting the endorsement of Hagee, who has called the Roman Catholic Church "the Great Whore" and a "cult."

Updated 6:11 p.m. with response from the McCain campaign: "John McCain is a man of integrity who will run on his record.  Senators Clinton and Obama should denounce this desperate, personal smear campaign Howard Dean and the leaders of their party seem intent on running," the McCain campaign said in a statement to CNN.

–CNN's Jessica Rummel

Filed under: Howard Dean • John McCain
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Peg

    My question is: How can the FEC do their business if they only have 2 members and have to fill the 4 vacancies before they can rule on this?
    Do these members need to be appointed (if so, by whom) or are they elected? It makes absolutely NO sense to me....what is going on?

    The FEC should get their act together and to their job!

    March 2, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. keith Franklin, Tn

    You got to ask yourself????? we need 4 or 8 more yrs of Repub lies????????

    March 2, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Sam

    It's about time somebody in politics challenged McCain's code of conduct. I'm sick and tired of hearing the "hero" line. Am I supposed to vote for this phony because of his "hero" record? Am I supposed to vote for him because he served in the military? People need to stop sucking up to him and worshiping his hero record and start looking at the facts and the real John McCain. We're electing the President of the United States; we're not electing a homecoming king. McCain is a loose canon and will start WW III if elected. Nobody should be fooled by the "nice guy" image he's using in the media.

    March 2, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. watching from Canada

    I am glad I don't vote south of the border. You give the candidates no room to speak or give thier opinion There is so mutch crap going around and who knows what to believe. Make it simple and you will still get the person you want elected.
    Everyone has a moutpiece out there and its almost like the saprano's in real time.
    Does enyone think for themselves?

    March 2, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. Bayou Joe

    DNC Chairman needs to hold his tonque as to John McCain's integrity. The Democrats have a lot of room to talk about integrity and values. Their beloved President was impeached and his wife stole the furniture and silveware from the Whitehouse when reluctantly left the whitehouse. This shows how desperate the Democrats have become and what they will do to get back into the Whitehouse. Not on my watch, Semper Fi.

    March 2, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Mark

    This is so absurd, it does not justify a response.... shame on Mr. Dean. Unless he has spent over five years being tortured and never given up on his country.... shut up.

    March 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  7. sozzi

    If The Catholic League for Religious has some guts it would DENOUNCE & REJECT John McCain for President TODAY. Mr. McCain has had ample amount of time to DENOUNCE & REJECT this Hagee guy.

    March 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. Dave

    Its good to see Dean back on the scene! The left needs someone to counter all the right-wing attack dogs.

    March 2, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. Alice

    Dean is speaking on behalf of perhaps the most unethical couple in American politics and he has the nerve to criticize a man of McCain stature? Just more of the same gutter politics from the Democrats. Nice going Dean, let's continue the trash talk we have experienced of the past 15 years!

    March 2, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    My question has always been, when did McCain grow some integrity. Charles Keating and his young son were sent to prison for stealing millions from the savings and loan, McCain was involved and walked away. The Keating family was financially destroyed while Charles Keating did his prison time, John McCain's family made money. There is more to be exposed on this McCain family which will blow your socks off.

    March 2, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. Richard

    Quit haggling ! You got enough problem as the head of a party ! What about Florida and Michigan voters ?

    March 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Tom Wittmann

    The lack of restraint of some democrats, as Howard Dean, has no limit, having performed the same act (nuances excepted) as he is
    now accusing McCain, more so, because he takes advantage of the fact that the FEC is not operative.

    And it is very bizarre that such persons have the nerve to say that
    reepublicans are the masters of smear tactcs.


    March 2, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. thomas pridemore west lafayette indiana

    Hey i wonder if you all could ask huckabee one more time why he is staying in the race, Do you realize how you all look in the eyes of a person like me that understood his answer with clarity the first time. I think this makes you feel better about yourselves because you really dont give much value to regular working americans. Why not try to up your standards a little bit and act like ya got some sense.

    March 2, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. Jesse

    We are talking about a man who cheated on his first wife and married his Mistress. We are talking about a man who was deeply involved in the S& L Scandal in the 80's with the Bush family that the American tax payers had to bail him out. We are talking about a man who used his horrible orderal in Vietnam to drum up sympathy. We are talking about a man who has disrespected colleagues and foes alike. We are talking about a man who ran out of money for his campagin and want to use the "General Election Funds" as a campaign issue because he can't raise enough money to go the distance. We are talking about a man who has a bunch of Lobbyist running his campagin. Mr. Straight talk. Yeah this is man is Mr. Intergrity.

    March 2, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. Heath, Bronx, NY

    Way to go Dean!!!

    Since Obama and Hillary are so focused on each other, they really don't have the time to focus on McCain.

    Hillary drop out so Obama can focus his energy on the McCain and the republicans

    Obama 08

    March 2, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  16. Bjorn Tipling

    I'm an Obama supporter and I think Dean needs to shut up until he goes through a Vietnamese prison for 5 years, is beaten every week for refusing to sign statements against his country. McCain refused special treatment or release unless all of the other POW's were also released. Tell me again how he has no integrity.

    Please, Dean, do us all a favor and shut up.

    March 2, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. ramses

    The great hypcrosy that is Howard Dean. Howard Dean himself entered and got out of public financing in his "failed" 2004 presidential campaign. How can Dean call out McCain's integrity when Dean never even served in the armed forces.

    March 2, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  18. E>Dozois

    And you think obama has any?

    March 2, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  19. Alice Rea

    CNN seems like it's reporting for a change. Thank God.
    Most people in my community were so tired of hearing about the new kid on the block. Many love the Clintons.
    Too many opinions and too much hate was completely turning them off. The Clintons aren't to dislike. They should be totally respected.

    It took Saturday Night Live to stop the bashing.
    I think 2-3 surveys also conveyed the outrageous coverage of Hillary

    Hillary is the former "First Lady" of America. President Clinton was the greatest president with a 60 percent approval rating.

    Both of them deserve respect from the media. It's so refreshing to see this for a change.

    March 2, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  20. john

    McCain has a dam sight more integrity than Hillary and Billy boy. But there again this is the Clinton News Network reporting.
    If Hillary had any integrity she would release those tax returns and Whitehouse papers.

    March 2, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  21. JCH

    Please, Howard "Screams like Vince McMahon" Dean is calling John McCain's integrity into questions seems like a big joke, because Dean's 2004 campaign had a similar public financing situation. Oh and by the way, Mr. Barack "the Chosen One" Obama also reneged on his written pledge to accept public financing himself (so much for hope and dreams, when the man flip flops on his own word).

    But as to Mr. McCain's integrity, he endured years of brutal torture and certain death as a POW because he refused to make statements against the USA. To me, as a veteran, there can be NO GREATER TEST of a man's integrity or honor. If the dems want to beat McCain, do it on the issues, because this honor, integrity and patriotism are losing arguments.

    March 2, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  22. Karl

    Let's of the Keating 5...divorced after having affair with current John McCain 'ethical'?

    March 2, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. APS in Hawaii

    Dean is right on track. I am surprised that the news media has not asked McCain about his ties to Lincoln Savings. He was deeply involved with "loans – gifts – donations" from Lincoln Savings. That is his albatross. Iraq will come back to haunt him too. We have become the occupying force and the law enforcement of protect that do not exist for Iraqis. They can be arrested with no proof, searched with no warrant, and houses destroyed with no reason. Money is being spent on bribes and not on rebuilding the country's infrastructure. The surge on the military side is good news, the news on the political side is a joke. The Iraqi Prime Minister is a wimp who is more interested in revenge killing then trying to be a leader. He has not made one political milestone that Bush/GOP stated in January 2007. Yet the surge is a success. Only in America can you take something and twist a failure into a success. That is what McCain is counting on, that nobody is looking at the political milestones. There has been too much money and deaths on this country. Bush's legacy will be tied to his failure in Iraq and his inability to be a tell the truth. Now McCain wants to carry the torch and his 100 year remark will come back to haunt him too.

    March 2, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  24. LEH

    Did Howard Dean think there was a need to attack McCain in order to increase Obama's chances in November? This is so unnecessary.

    March 2, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. Sharon

    Without proof of wrong doing, before they even gather the facts, he is smeared again like before. What is it? They can't find anything to use against him so they clutch at straws even if it means using rumor and innuendo?

    March 2, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
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