December 20th, 2007
03:06 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain's Christmas ad puts cross front and center

McCain is out with a Christmas ad.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Another Republican presidential candidate is out with a Christmas television ad prominently featuring a cross, but no one will be able accuse this ad of telegraphing anything subliminal.

Sen. John McCain's campaign today released a new ad recounting a tale from McCain's time in a Vietnamese prison camp, and the image of the cross is deliberately placed front and center.

The ad will run in South Carolina and New Hampshire beginning Friday and will broadcast until "a few days after Christmas," according to a McCain aide. It's McCain's first TV ad in South Carolina.

"One night, after being mistreated as a POW, a guard loosened the ropes binding me, easing my pain," McCain narrates in the 30-second spot. "On Christmas, that same guard approached me, and without saying a word, he drew a cross in the sand."

The ad uses grainy footage to re-enact the moment as a man, off screen, draws a cross in the dirt using a twig.

"We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas," the ad continues. "I will never forget that no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up."

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, was accused of subliminally using a "floating cross" in the background of his new Christmas ad as a nod to evangelical Christians. He denied that charge.

While he did not condemn Huckabee's ad, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he hoped "we don't divide America on the basis of faith."

"I hope Gov. Huckabee, like all of us at this time, is sensitive to that diversity of faith and the liberty of peoples to worship God as they choose," Romney told reporters in South Carolina.

South Carolina's Attorney General Henry McMaster, a chairman of McCain's campaign in the Palmetto State, said at a press conference revealing the new TV spot that "it's perfectly appropriate and good" to use the cross in an ad about Christmas.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: John McCain • New Hampshire • South Carolina
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Disgusting. Using the cross to get votes. McCain should be very ashamed.

    December 20, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Mark Cross Junction VA

    Huckabee should have the balls that McCain has to say its okay to have a cross in your ad. Shame is having fat oprah or slick willy in your ad.

    December 20, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Marty Pacino

    I actually like Mccain but lets be serious you are trying to steal Huckabees steam. You didn't have the courage to even admitt you were a Christian. While I laude you for being a pow and I appreciate your efforts it does not negate the fact that you had no desire to put Christianity at the forefront until you saw it catapulted Huckabee. Huckabee had the courage to air his add and made this issue a forefront. "Those who come to God in the final hour will be denied"

    December 20, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |

    As usual, John McCain shows us that Christmas is universal, but I don't see that as the message. He's not asking us to vote for Jesus. He's asking for us to vote for him.

    Question: Who would Jesus vote for?

    Answer: Jesus can't vote, He's not a Citizen.

    December 20, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. John Q. Public, USA

    OK, please cue the angry liberal diatribes about the religious right...

    December 20, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Salvador

    Oh good, another Republican pimping the cross.

    Yeah, that's news.

    December 20, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. Wayne, Greenville TX

    And more pandering to the Religious Right....

    December 20, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Come On Now, NYC

    I have to laugh at these candidates who are seemingly screaming, "I own an imaginary character more than you!!!"

    I would love to see a straight faced candidate say, "Happy Birthday Mithras!"

    Until then, I'll just sit back and watch the inevitable posts by those with a persecution complex roll in.

    December 20, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Joe G, Washington, DC

    Of course, there is no way to validate this "cross in the sand" STORY – we have to take John's word – HA, no thanks! Personally, I draw a line in the sand when it comes to "bought and sold" Capitol Hill phonies like John McCain and John Kerry.

    December 20, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Great way to turn a negative into a ....well whatever. As a catholic, I would have preferred a crucifex. Do you think you could trace a little Jesus on there for me?
    John...the symbols are irrelevant. What's important is what is in your heart of hearts–the one God sees. John, you will show us more about yourself by your actions than including religious emblems in the bacdrop–while your rhetoric tells us it's O.K. to kill, the death penalty is justice, and it's O.K. to ignore some suffering and poverty in the world for the greater good. Yep, your actions tell us a great deal more than your symbolism.

    December 20, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. Joseph W. Mathews, Manchester, VT

    I greatly admire John Mc Cain and appreciate the "cross" story from his days as a POW, however, we have more than Christians in this nation. I am a Catholic, but am getting tired of the candidates, especially Huckabee and Romney, parading their "faith" in front of everyone.

    For the record, the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, in Charleston, S.C., is the first Jewish congregation in the U.S. dating from 1749. I guess Mc Cain's campaign people think they're all Democrats as are the rest of the non-Christians.

    I was a county co-chair for Mc Cain in 2000 and have always greatly admired him, but this goes too far. Looks like this Republican's voting for Obama in the primary. Faith is personal and freedom of religion is guaranteed in our Constitution. It's a shame some candidates don't read it.

    December 20, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. ETM, Springfield, VA

    Looks like McCain is going to fight Huckabee for the religious right vote. There goes the last of the integrity he once had before he started sucking up to Jerry Falwell and the other "agents of intolerance."

    December 20, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. John Q. Public

    Please cue the angry liberal diatribes about the religious right.

    December 20, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. RonPaulForTheLongHaul

    I like Ron Paul's Christmas ad the best:

    But CNN won't mention that one. They just want to talk about some white supremacist baloney when it's clear that Ron Paul is completely opposed to any type of racism and is all about the rights of the individual. Just learn about Ron Paul people.

    December 20, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Lee, Landing NJ

    Will the media call out McCain on this like they pilloried Huckabee for an "imagined" cross?

    Maybe Rudy Guilini will tattoo a cross on his forehead to fool the republican "base" too. He already has 9-11 tattooed somewhere else.

    December 20, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. Dennis Shreefer, Lima, Ohio

    Crosses "in the sand" – "floating crosses". Might I suggest to McCain and the other Republican candidates that hereafter all speeches and commercials be delivered from a pulpit. Puzzling that McCain's fervent faith includes nary a mention of tens of thousands of deaths of innocent men, women and children in Iraq, all victims of a war of lies and deception that McCain seems to love. Keep up the good work John and other GOP candidates. Every silly and transparent pander to the E-vans widens the margin of the Democrat's victory in 2008.

    December 20, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. Carol, Lansdale, PA

    John McCain is the only candidate who personally knows what it's like to be a soldier and more than that, to be a POW.

    He's a man who knows what it is to be just a regular American - one who never had the power of "big oil" and the "silver spoon" carrying him.

    A good quality

    December 20, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. RIghtyTighty

    The image of Christ's sacrifice breaks all language barriers, then and now.

    December 20, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. aj huntington, ny.

    Founders of this country came here to avoid religious persecution . America was established so that a man wouldn't HAVE to feel leery about proclaiming his religious beliefs.

    Congratulations, John McCain on a well done ad !

    December 20, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. Tim, Cincinnati, OH

    What a powerful and authentic message. If nothing else, John McCain knows how to inspire.

    December 20, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. Drew, Talladega AL

    I just saw that ad and I think its Pretty awesome. No one is going to accuse John McCain about putting a "Subliminal" cross in his ad. Its Pretty obvious that its there.

    December 20, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. Steve,Lyons,CO

    Another Christian party mouth-foamer goes mythical.

    These aren't even Republicans. They're Religicans[tm].

    December 20, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. fred

    The only ones bent out of shape about a cross are liberals and atheists.

    December 20, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Sharon, Littleton, CO

    Are these guys in the GOP running for Pope? This blatant pandering to and manipulation of faithful church goers for political gain is nauseating. When will the Republicans realize that GOD is not spelled GOP?

    December 20, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  25. AJ, King George VA

    Very nice touch with meaning from the heart.

    December 20, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
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