May 2nd, 2008
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Voter tells McCain he needs 'Swift Boat' help

A voter said a “Swift Boat”-style group should come to McCain’s aid.

A voter said a “Swift Boat”-style group should come to McCain’s aid.

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) – A voter at a John McCain campaign event told the presumptive Republican nominee that he needed a “Swift Boats for McCain” group to aid his campaign this fall.

Air Force veteran Clif Sams told McCain that he had done a “damn good job” surviving his imprisonment during the Vietnam War. He then told the senator: “I hope that we have somebody called Swift Boats for McCain come out and help you. You’re damn good.”

“Thank you sir, and thank you for your service,” McCain responded.

In 2004, McCain vigorously defended John Kerry against attacks from “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” a group which sought to undermine Kerry’s Vietnam war record. At the time, the Arizona senator called the ads “dishonest and dishonorable.”

Asked why McCain had not had a similar reaction to Friday’s "Swift Boats for McCain" comment, campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said the senator had repeatedly staked out a “clear position” against third-party groups, and "the only 527 activity is against us."

Sams, the Air Force veteran who now sells life insurance, re-iterated to CNN after the town hall that he would like to see a group similar to “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” to help McCain defend himself from Democratic attacks in the general election.

He predicted “there will be a lot of veterans like us who come out of the woodwork this fall” to assist McCain.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Robert

    McCain doesn't need a "Swift Boat" group to help him. He's got Obama.

    May 2, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. John, Brooklyn, NY

    So...John McCain shows his true colors. The Swift Boat "veterans" decided to parlay their political views into slandering the integrity of a decorated war hero in 2004. For John McCain to agree that such a campaign would be appropriate in 2008 as well demonstrates that he is simply an old fashioned partisan hack – and not representing the interests of ALL veterans, as he professes.

    May 2, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. WAW

    The GOP died forever the moment the Swift Boaters showed up. McCain was right then and now. I might vote for McCain, the Republican Party had not counted on their stars fading and leaving the nomination to an also ran. But I will never vote for the Republican Party because of the Swift Boat scum it represents. Rev Wright is sinless compared to them.

    May 2, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Billy G in Las Vegas

    Lt John McCain had a reputation as a screaming jerk (and that's being polite) when he was an instructor pilot at Basic Jet Training at NAS Meridian before he went to Viet Nam. if there is any "Swift Boating" in this election it will be by former Student Naval Aviators that were abused by this guy and still hate his guts.

    May 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. NickSanDiego

    PLANT! We all know about al of the veterens groups that re building up to expose McCAin and this is a simple ploy to head them off.

    Google Vienam vets and McCain and see what comes up.

    May 2, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. TheLeftNut

    Swift this you traitor!

    May 2, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  7. Edward Olan

    I am sorry to say this, the man is an idiot. That is why our country is the day it is because of comments like that. I commend him for his services, I say again, he is an idiot. We need civility in our political discourse.

    May 2, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |


    May 2, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. D. May

    Who cares what John McSame did if he is intent on leading this country to a 100 year war in Iraq! Besides, if you get captured and heled for 5 years does that make you a hero? Not in my book.

    May 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Ennis, LA

    Yeah, and I hope they do as much for McCain as they did for Kerry.

    May 2, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. An American


    May 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. Ginny

    In October I will be 87 and would like Mc Cain tell me how much 5000 would pay on my hospital bill 3 days my hospital cost. over 18,000 dollars, I am one fortunate senior as my husband worked for General Motors in Columbus, Ohio. I bet you have a much better insurance you want to offer the voters. I am a proud democrat .

    May 2, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. Rusty

    No surprise that JM will get "swift boat like help." Sort of surprised that he publicly welcomes and encourages it. Unless HRC steals the nomination, things should be very one sided and nasty this fall. Obama seems to be willing to only block punches and not punch back. He avoided sniper fire in the last debate right after HRC blasted him on personal stuff. I hope voters will see that he really does take the high road and reward it with their votes. He trusts that voters are paying attention and smart. I hope he is correct.

    May 2, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. sb



    May 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    Of course Republicans need another dishonsest and dishonorable grooup to spew their lies that is the only way Republicans can get elected.

    Let's see how honorable Senator McCain is here with this issue.

    May 2, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  16. Chris in Va.

    I really hope Hillary wins the Democratic nomination. Does anyone out there think the Republicans will cater to Hillary and her dirty little secrets and keep mum like her pals at CNN? They will DESTROY her and we finally will see the last of the Clinton blight on our nation.

    May 2, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  17. DAN

    This is boring cnn, you should show or interview Hillary more, I know Obama is your guy but did you see the ratings fox got last night interviewing sen Clinton! Imagine if you had more balance coverage you would be doubling your ratings and would be closer to fox in popularity instead of competing with msnbc for Obama nuts.

    May 2, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. Lynn D

    Senator Obama has already written your screenplay for you.

    May 2, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Kim

    Why not support Hillary instead? She is more right wing than McBush. Hillary suports the Political pandering gas tax break that McBush dreamed up. Hillary (Bush lite) Clinton says that she will Nuke Iran! Even Bush and McBush don't get that crazy. The Right Wingers loved Hillary on Bill O'Rielly's show. Hillary should be fighting for the Republican nomination.

    May 2, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. Griff

    The only Help I think need John, is the same you've had since you were Chosen Nominee. Just keep plugging away. You're doing juist enough., don't push too hard....

    May 2, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  21. CT Chriss

    Why would he want a group that lies?

    The original Swift Boat group were proven liars. That is why the term has come to mean someone who lies to smear people.

    What a shame!

    May 2, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  22. RJL for CHANGE

    CNN - I am amazed that you didn't mention the fact that in his answering the question on the campaign stump, McCain links the US presence in the Middle East to the reserves of foreign oil that is the focus for US presence. I am ashamed of McCain and I am ashamed of your selective reporting.

    May 2, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  23. hillaryskank on myspace

    Yep, and I'll be there supporting McCain as well if Clinton steals this election.
    I don't know why we even bother with the General election. Most Clinton stooges will not vote democrat if Barack wins, and I and many others will not vote democrat if Clinton wins. As soon as the primary is finally over and Hillary finally sets herself down for a tea with Liz Taylor and Madonna and Rosie, like she did in the Ireland Peace Tea Party, McCain will win no matter what.

    May 2, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. donchild

    I think Clif Sams needs to take a closer look at McCain. If anyone has a military career that is wide open to a Swift Boat attack, it is "Ace" McCain. Five aircraft destroyed, and none of them belonging to the enemy? Men who hated to serve under his command because of his bad temper? The Keating Five?

    May 2, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    While we are all sorry that McCain had to endure being a POW, that does not qualify him to lead America out of the deep quagmire that the Cheney/Bush regime has created with their arrogance, deceipt and stellar incompetence. His temper, intimate involvement with the Keating scandal, and extreme flip flopping (some years back he said he was too old THEN to run for President!) all make clear we'd be in for a rerun and easily, one more war.

    May 2, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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