[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/28/art.dean.gi.jpg caption="DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "]
(CNN) - The Republican National Committee called on both Democratic presidential candidates Friday to denounce recent comments from Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean who called John McCain a 'blatant opportunist.'
Dean made the comment earlier in the day in a statement issued by the DNC on McCain's new television ad that features footage of the Arizona Republican as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
"While we honor McCain’s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years," Dean said.
RNC Deputy Chairman Frank Donatelli called the comment a "character smear," and said they are the "latest in what has become a troubling pattern where the chairman of the national party has questioned Senator McCain’s character and integrity."
"Howard Dean owes John McCain an immediate apology and both Senators Clinton and Obama should unequivocally denounce this disgraceful attack," Donatelli added.
Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama are battling for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Responding to Donatelli's comments, DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney said the RNC is "cherry picking the facts."
"Clearly the RNC recognizes that the biggest threat to John McCain, as we heard loud and clear from voters in our recent focus groups, is the damage he inflicted on his 'independent' image and reputation for 'straight talk' by shifting his positions to make them more acceptable to the right wing of the Republican Party," she said.
"The truth is that most Americans would likely agree that while we honor Senator McCain's service, America cannot afford another Bush Republican who doesn't understand the economy and who wants to keep our troops in Iraq for up to 100 years," she added.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney