January 14th, 2008
12:45 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain: Romney can expect a 'forceful' response

McCain and Romney are running neck-and-neck in recent Michigan polls.

McCain and Romney are running neck-and-neck in recent Michigan polls.

(CNN) - John McCain – who had vowed to avoid negative campaigning – defended his decision to send out a campaign mailer in South Carolina attacking Republican rival Mitt Romney, describing the move as a defensive measure.

“We had to respond to negative campaigning,” the Arizona senator told reporters after a campaign event in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“Now, we won’t go tit-for-tat, but we will respond, and we will make clear that this kind of negative campaigning didn’t work for him in Iowa when he attacked Governor Huckabee, didn’t work in New Hampshire when his campaign attacked me, and I don’t think it’s going to work in Michigan where he’s attacking me, and it won’t work in South Carolina.

“So, we will respond in a very forceful fashion because we know unfortunately that these charges have to be responded to, but we’re not going to go tit-for-tat with him.”

He added, “…There’s a stack of mailers this high that attack me, literally this high that have flooded South Carolina for the last six months.”

He also dismissed the idea that the mailer was not a response to a Romney charge, but a fresh attack of his own against the former Massachusetts governor.

“It’s not negative campaigning,” McCain said. “I think it’s what his record is, particularly his positions on many issues… It’s a tough business. I said it in the debate the other night. It’s a tough business for all the candidates that are running. When millions of dollars are spent attacking us, we are going to have to respond.”

South Carolina's Republican presidential primary will be held this Saturday.

–CNN’s Dana Bash and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: John McCain • Michigan • Mitt Romney • South Carolina
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Fed Up in Baltimore

    Who cares about this story? Wow – negative campaigning... what a story.

    I'm pretty frustrated that given everything that's going on in our country and beyond that this is what the media are focusing on. The talking heads are buzzing about this worthless gossip and have been since even before they screwed up yet another political projection (this time in New Hampshire). These candidates are spending millions of dollars, a big part of which is mud-slinging. Think what else that money could have gone towards.

    There should be a more serious dialog among candidates, and the press have a responsibility to push for it, instead of this stupid "he-said-what-oh-no-he-didn't" commentary that dominates recent debates. Regardless of who you're going to vote for, we need to ask for more than stories like this that our reporters leech on.

    There are so many differences among candidates between immigration, taxes, foreign policy, the economy, and environmental issues that are affecting us now; CNN, as well as many other networks, would be better suited to shift their focus and stop dumbing down the implications of this next election.

    January 14, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  2. arfisher, Midlothian, VA

    Romney runs contrast ads regarding the record and the issues they are NOT attack ads. Some folks I guess can't handle the truth exposed.

    January 14, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  3. Eddiejames

    McCain is constantly complaining about Romney’s negative campaign... Every time he brings it up he spews out more negative comments about Romney. Do people not realize that he and Huck have been much more negative than Romney? All Romney has done is compared the facts. I've been watching McCain for years he's a closet liberal! I’ll vote Democrat before I vote for McCain or Huck. I don’t believe that these men are smart enough to improve the country.

    January 15, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  4. Tom, NY

    Typical McCain. Say one thing and do another. Just like he did with amnesty.

    January 15, 2008 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  5. Anonymous

    McCain is a dumbnuts-a conservative will always vote against this MSM choice.

    January 15, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  6. ne,pa

    To Jose Card:
    My NEGATIVES on McCain don't always post either...you just post again ..DUH!

    January 15, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  7. Steve Tanenbaum

    Above article titled: Edwards' daughter hit by drunk driver

    NO WHERE repeat NO WHERE does this article bother to say WHETHER SHE WAS HURT.

    $2,000 damage to the car and ONE MENTION that 'she's doing FINE.' Like maybe she was upset over the damage and is now 'doing FINE.'

    Again, do you mean to say no one asked Edwards IF HIS DAUGHTER WAS HURT??? NO MENTION OF ANY PHYSICAL INJURY.


    January 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Bob

    1st) Neither the Clintons nor Obama used race to define nor defend their position. This is a fabrication and manipulation by the spin doctors!

    2nd) The gist of the Clinton’s criticism of Barack Obama was to try and diminish Barack’s message of “change you can believe in” and his [Barack’s] vision of a better tomorrow. This is what the Clinton’s referred to as giving people false hopes that cannot be delivered on.

    3rd) In reference to JFK and MLK, Barack simply used the two great Americans as argument to support why he believes in “vision” and that a vision of the end state is effective in defining goals. Barack stated that neither JFK and MLK gave up on their visions simply because they lacked detailed plan or means to see them into effect! One could easily add Ronald Regan to the mix as true visionaries!

    4th) The line up of major players on this is clearly “old school” verses “new school” hence Charlie Rangel’s input. There are clearly entrenched politicians and political interest that are backing the traditional candidate with some exceptions such as Senator Kerry and others whom share a vision of change, change we can trust.

    5th) You can’t separate Hillary and Bill Clinton in their co-run for President and as such they are the virtual incumbents and their comments must be seen to represent one voice.

    6th) The Al Gore and Ted Kennedy endorsements will be the “big fish” that will either add additional legitimacy to one candidate or confirmation of experience to the other.

    It is clear that the establishment HATEs the insurgent and “the vision thing”.

    Take a look at all the video related to this story available on YouTube. You can start, stop and replay as many times as you want in order to get your interpretation of who said what and when for this entire NON RACE EVENT!

    Never under estimate the power of inspirational “vision”.

    January 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Ken

    oh please, you old coot. you've been negative a long time and you want to act like you haven't been. add to that your smug looks and smiles you display at the debates and it's a huge turn off. then look at your record and it's lights out pal. you are a war mongering, neo-con, dinosaur.

    January 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. brent

    start covering Giuliani. We all know that you are trying to cover him up b/c he is the only chance to beat the Democrats.

    McCain is a RINO and is a pathetic candidate who supports illegals, is anti-guns and pro-abortion.

    Start covering some real conservatives.

    January 15, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. Mario

    Cami, you are right! That is all insane McCain is doeing!

    Go Mitt!

    January 15, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. Richard

    The more I observe the candidates the more Romney stands out as the only true leader. all the rest scare me. and I don't totally agree with Romney's positions, but he's still better than the rest.

    January 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Old Ben Franklin

    Old Ben Franklin speaks about each of the candidates...

    John McCain will start more wars in the middle east. He is a warmonger, who really thinks he's doing the right thing. He wants the U.S. to forcefully assert itself everwhere in the world for many decades to come. This would probably be the final mistake. Take heed, Mr. McCain is a very dangerous man, pretending to care about our country's economy, civil rights, and our service men overseas. If you want more war, increasing gasoline prices and everything costing more, and many more dead U.S. soldiers then John McCain is your man. He's trying hard to deceive you about his intentions - just to get elected. I hope you can see it. If you want more trouble and sadness for us then vote John McCain.

    If not then you better think about one of the other candidates.

    Mitt Romney is a very rich man, he's just looking for another feather in his cap. He doesn't really know about the poor man's needs. He's not a bad person, he just doesn't really have any connection with the poor or the middle class. He was born rich and he will die rich. He has no idea what it's like to lose a job, or be unable to pay a bill. He's not a good choice for the working man. Not really.

    Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul are your best choices. Huckabee is a bit slippery, but I think he would try to do the right thing in most cases. He's Ok. But, read on...

    How would you like to see gasoline back to $2.00/ gal? And, in just a few months after the inauguration in January 2009. Or start getting your paychecks without any taxes on it? The U.S. gov't doesn't need your money. They have more than enough resources without it.

    How would you like to see prices at the grocery store stop rising and begin to drop, and drop? Isn't it about time you got something tangible (like seriously lower gasoline prices...) out of all these candidates promises?

    Then cast your vote for Ron Paul. Ron Paul is the only candidate who really is a straight talker. He is an honest man. That's something you just don't see in big elections anymore. No, he's not a clever debater, like the rest of them, but he is telling you the truth. He knows economic history and he knows the importance of a solid currency. Your money should have real value for you, and not just for the U.S. government. Maybe you don't want to vote for him, but he is telling you the truth, nevertheless, listen to him. He's a man of integrity. I think it would be nice to have someone in office who will keep his word for a change. Ron Paul will. You'll see change that really favors you. All of our forefathers and great leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. stand by Ron Paul. Don't believe me? Just read a good textbook on U.S. History. You'll find out the truth about all of these guys.

    It's your choice, as it should be.

    January 15, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  14. Concerned Disabled American Veteran

    I prefer experience over charm and youth when it comes to critical decisions that concern the long term well being of Americans. More Americans killed on 9-11 than Pearl Harbor 1941 !!!!! (of which brought the USA into WWII). The issue is do we run from those who came to our country and committed mass murder and untold economic loss and worse yet they promise to committ worse attacks in the future. It appears many people are more concerned with what freebies they can get out of the government than the long term concerns of our country. What kind of America are we leaving for future generations? One that is sound and secure or one that is still running away from those who still remain that wish us severe harm?
    I know that this is concerning only one of many political issues, however I believe it is of utmost importance. I know who I voted for, ... who would you vote for is up to you.

    January 15, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. Joe Rullo

    Mitt's victory in Michigan is a clear mandate to fix the economy in a state that has been in economic turmoil for years, and now reflects the situation of the economy in the United States currently. Mitt is clearly the economic candidate who has not only been consisten since Iowa but has pointed out his experience with the economy including Governor, business leader in private sector, and his participation in Olympics committee positive turn around. It will be spinned that the Michigan victory was a fluke by his opponents but the truth is the economy is the number one issue and MITT ROMNEY is the answer and the economic candidate. IT CAN ONLY BE ASSUMED THAT THE NEXT MONTH THE ECONOMY WILL CONTINUE TO GET WORSE AND MITT WILL DO BETTER AND BETTER. HE WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

    January 15, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  16. blah

    I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children.

    January 16, 2008 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  17. Anna in Iowa

    When Mitt ran ads comparing the issues, he was called a "Liar and said to be " dishonest". If that is not an attack on character I don't know what is... Both Huckabee and McCain called this negative. What Romney called negative is the attacks on his personal character.... if anyone claims that Romney was not attacked personal than it appears they have not been watching the debates or the news.

    MCCAIN AND HUCKABEE ARE TRYING TO DIVIDE THE PARTY. Romney points out there the difference in issues but if you listen to him to talk about their character he doesn't attack them personally... he actually says nice things about them personally. He called Huckabee a "family man" and McCain a "Honorable Man."

    ROMNEY 08'

    January 18, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Anna in Iowa

    Records matters... so do the "real" issues not the liberal media spin. ROMNEY

    January 18, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
1 2 3 4