December 15th, 2007
12:30 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain speaks at Atwater's alma mater

NEWBERRY, South Carolina (CNN) - Perhaps it's only the smallest of ironies, but Sen. John McCain just delivered the commencement speech at tiny Newberry College, the alma mater of legendary political strategist Lee Atwater.

Atwater may be best known as the mastermind of George H.W. Bush's victory over Michael Dukakis in 1988, but Palmetto State political junkies know him as the talented and brash native son that had a take no prisoners approach when it came to politics.

The Newberry graduate, who died of cancer in 1991, introduced all sorts of aggressive tactics to state political campaigning, while working for towering Republican figures such as former South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell and former Sen. Strom Thurmond.

McCain became a victim of that hardball legacy when he lost to George W. Bush here in the 2000 primary following a vicious whisper campaign mounted against him by McCain opponents.

McCain spoke to the graduates Saturday about the value of honor and sacrifice.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: John McCain • South Carolina
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Reid Mueller, McLean VA

    Lets not forget the Lee Atwater ruined a bunch of politician's lives and then when he found out that he had brain cancer went around to those people he tried to destroy and asked forgivness. Lets hope they all told him to burn in hell. Carl Rove did the hatchet job on John McCain in 2000. Lets hope Rove goes out the same way.

    December 15, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Chris

    At waters alma matter!

    That sounds like Torture!

    December 15, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Ron Nebraska

    Lee Atwater was a scumbag in the mold of Karl Rove, and he only saw the error of his ways at the end of his life. Hoping, I guess, that he could avoid his seat in hell by acknowledging his damage to American life.

    December 15, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |