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