April 8th, 2008
12:05 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain camp calls on Obama to denounce 'smear'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/02/29/art.rock.gi.jpg caption=" McCain's campaign called Rockefeller's remark an 'insult' to veterans. "] (CNN) - John McCain's campaign called on Barack Obama Tuesday to condemn a comment from one of his Senate supporters that the presumptive Republican nominee, a naval aviator during the Vietnam War, "was a fighter pilot who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit."

"What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground?" Sen. Jay Rockefeller said in an interview published in Tuesday's Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette. "He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."

The McCain campaign issued a statement from supporter Orson Swindle, who called Rockefeller’s remarks a “smear against John McCain's character and military record” and called on Obama to denounce the "insult to all the men and women who are serving or have served in America's military."

"Had Senator Rockefeller served himself, he would appreciate and understand that most who have been to war emerge with a much deeper concern for humanity than they otherwise might," said the former Marine lieutenant colonel. "If he knew what he was talking about, he would know that John McCain wasn't dropping laser-guided missiles at 35,000 feet in 1967."

Swindle was a prisoner of war in Vietnam with McCain.

This is the second time in four days the McCain campaign has called on Obama to condemn comments by a fellow Democrat.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (215 Responses)
  1. harbinger

    The point is, this man is an idiot. How did Ropperflopper get into the U. S. Senate? Dumb electorate, I guess. Laser guided missles from 35,000 feet during the Vietnam war? We had radios and navigational gear with vacuum tubes in them. What a joke!

    April 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Brad

    This is crazy... How could Rockefeller say such a thing? McCain wasn't dropping laser-guided bombs! How offensive is that? Laser guided bombs often attempt to avoid civilian casualties. We never would have thought of that in Vietnam.

    McCain was dropping good old fashioned flesh-burning napalm willy-nilly against both civilian and military targets. To suggest that he might have wanted to avoid civilians is an outrage. It was after all, a war of attrition.

    McCain is not a war monger.... war criminal maybe, but not a monger.

    April 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. BCNU purple state, usa

    Rockefeller is an idiot for making this remark.

    McCain followed orders and did what he was told. Perhaps we should do away with advanced weaponry and go to battle with spears, swords, shields and a cat of nine tails! The we could make killing the enemy truly "up close and personal", the way REAL MEN and Warriors do it.

    I think all of us should vote against every incumbent in Congress, get a fresh start regardless of party. That meas we could clean out the house of representatives this year and in six years, all of the other scoundrels will be gone. Are ya' with me?

    April 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Dave

    More ignorant slander from a liberal. McCain is right to confront them on this vindictive lie. Where does Obama stand, with a lie or with the truth?

    April 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Isabella

    These are uncalled for and ill informed statements made by Rockefeller.
    All these remarks are made to smear a candidate and have no other purpose but it does show you what Obama's supporters are really all about.
    Lest we not forget all the men and women who are currently risking their lives at war . This is an insult to any soldier , shame on you Mr. Rockefeller..!!

    April 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. T in Ann Arbor

    Yawn. Rockefeller's an idiot. But what does that have to do with Obama, who has repeatedly honored McCain's service?

    Back to the issues ... the United States military budget is bigger than the next 168 countries COMBINED. McCain wants to make the military BIGGER, probably so he can invade Iran. I am against that, so I will vote for whoever his opponent is.

    April 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Debra Austin, Texas

    Interesting that McCain sees nobody but Obama. I think Rockerfeller is a US Senator, can't McCain walk down the hall and talk to Rockerfeller on his own or is he too old to do the work himself and is too weak to do his own bidding. If Obama has become the ONLY Democrat to speak for all Democrats, then give him the dang nomination. Otherwise, fly-boy, get your answers from the source of the statement. What a jerk.

    April 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Dmitriy

    These comments are an insult towards veterans. Obamaniacs on the other hand and CNN are too disillusioned to see anything past their infatuation with their Golden Boy. Just like they did when Obama's advisor Austin Goolsbee said that Obama’s NAFTA opposition was just campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously. Or when his other advisor Colin Kahl recommended that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010. Or how Obama called on Clinton to denounce Geraldine Ferraro's "racist" comments but then couldn't do the same when faced with Rev Wright's ordeal.
    And of course CNN “obsesses” with Mark Penn acting on behalf of his company and Hillary’s comments about sniper fire.
    Obama's entire campaign is bias and people are feeding into his frenzy.

    April 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  9. Mark

    This does not surprise me coming from the Obama campaign. If the democratic leadership do not denounce this I will not stop until every one of the hard working and patriotic Sailors in my command know about the kind of unappreciative regard the democrats hold for all of us and the kind of support we can expect from a democratic Congress and White House. I had such high hopes for the democrats, but I don't see them holding on to Congress past 2010 if the even keep it in 2008.

    April 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. Chris

    I am a Marine brat. My father served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. All of my life I have heard that our military has fought for our freedom including the freedom of speech. Rockefeller has every right to say what he wants to say and McCain can refute it. It is our job to decide what is truth and what is not so we can develop our "own" belief system. That is the American way.

    April 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. Elizabeth

    Isn't it interesting how uncomfortable we are when someone points out what our bombs did to other people – men, women and children? How righteous we are when one of our soldiers die, but no one questions the thousands of Vietnamese or Iraqi lives lost?

    But then I forget – only AMerican lives are precious in the eyes of God. I wonder – "What would Jesus Bomb?" Since we consider ourselves such righteous God fearing people I think the question is appropriate.

    Anyone who can in joke make up a song – "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" is a warmonger. At worst he has a sick mind.

    April 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. steve

    That is very lame coming from McBush camp.
    Mccain ,while not take responsibility for all the smear all your supporters
    including Hannity, Rush Limburg, O Reily and Carl roves are dishing on Obama.
    Reject and denounce them now.
    When do a candidate take responsibility for attacks from his party members?

    April 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. Steve

    Senator Rockerfeller suffers from low self esteme and just wants to be heard. So he told everyone hoe stupid he is and how he knows nothing about military weapons. He is a disgrace to himself and all of the fine people of West virginia. He will probably stand in line with Obama when surrenders America to the radical muslim movement instead standing up and fighting like an American.

    April 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. Dave

    After reading some of the posts here, it occurs to me that people aren't aware of some facts:

    1) John McCain was shot down by a SAM missile in 1967, at an altitude considerably lower than 35,000 feet.
    2) Laser-guided bombs weren't used until the last couple of years of the Vietnam war, which would be around 1970
    3) Jay Rockefeller barefaced liar.

    Does this make any difference to some of you people?

    April 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. Robert Lowe

    Everyone seems to be missing a point. Do we not have the right to freedom of speech. Does the Constitution say you can speak freely but if you expect to have a high level government or political job you better watch your tongue. It seems that whether from the pulpit, the Senate, the street, ore the "Bully Pulpit" we get to say what we think and feel at the time we think and feel it. How else can we discover what it soundslike, and what others may think. Have we all become "Big Brother"?

    April 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. Sensible Thinker in CA

    Hey Debby - the Obama campaign did not make these comments, Sen Rockefeller did. And while all of us support our troops who fight in harms way, patriotism does not mean that you blindly support stupid decisions made by our government to send our troops to war in the first place.

    I have seen no valid reason to question Sen Obama's patriotism. He has simply made clear that as Presidient, he commits to THINK SENSIBLY before acting - as opposed to the callous and costly manner that our current administration has.

    I can only hope that Sen McCain, if elected, would do the same.

    April 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. Tina, NC

    People are getting so out of hand in this election. I'm not a supporter of John McCain, far from it, but I read these blogs just about everyday and I just can't believe some of the nonsense. I don't think anyone doubts (except for the guy making the idiotic comments above) that John McCain is a war hero. We need to start talking about the issues.
    Could we PLEASE start talking about how we are going to fix our economy. Could we PLEASE start talking about how we are going to better educate our children. Could we PLEASE start talking about how we are going to CONSTRUCTIVELY end the war. Could we PLEASE start talking about how were are going to stop the mortage meltdown. Just to name a few.

    OBAMA '08

    April 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. notso

    as i welcome myself to the land of stupid, bored, underinformed ,overly opinioned, circular logicly challanged, and unfortunately, registered to vote people, i offer the following: nobody cares what JR says, said, or will do, therefore why should Obama denounce anything; next, anyone who thinks being a POW is a political advantage is an idiot, because if it was a political advantage they would all do it; finally, being a POW and or pilot in a war may not make JM a hero in everone's book but he served his country and his life was on the line (kind of like HC at the airport in Bosnia or BO in ....... , nevermind).

    April 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Alonzo Demetrius

    We need to get the seniles out of the Senate and House of Representatives. I think Rockefeller has forgotten that he knew there were no Laser Guided missiles in 1967.

    Rockefeller needs to retire gracefully before he forgets his way back to his home every evening.

    April 8, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. Lee WV

    As a republican in WV I have had to listen to Jay Rockefeller's mouth since the 70's.He first was against coal mining ,then when he saw it was a mistake,he did a quick 180 on the subject.I personally have been thinking about voting for Obama in Nov.remarks like this don't help.McCain deserves the respect of all Americans.You might not agree with his policies but we all owe him respect.If any candidate wants to win WV they need to get the NRA and gun owners endorsement.

    April 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. Rachhpal Kukreja M.D

    McCain has some war experience about 35 years ago To become president one does not need that only experience.Does he understands any thing about ecnomics issues effectg common people like health care and jobs. Haveing come from rich elite family
    he is unfit to be Present.
    Does America want to stay in one war or other all the time I hope not !
    Give peace a chance. Country is already in severe ecnomic downturn. Strong countries are ecnomically strong. If they fight all the time to become imperial power I rememwhat happened to ROME.
    Wisdom does not always come with experience or age......Example BUSH. What good he has done in last 8 years.DOES ANY COUNTRY RESPECT AMERICA ANYMORE

    April 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. American

    The most difficult thing to do in our country is to criticize ill-conceived wars and foreign policy without opening one's self to charges of being unpatriotic. Rockefeller could do well to think about how he expresses such concerns. Even if a US military action, like Vietnam or Iraq, is stupid, morally questionable, and a disaster for our country, one has to realize that the men and women in our armed forces are risking and losing their lives. They need to believe that what they are doing is justifiable. This is one of the many costs of such a stupid move as Iraq, to waste the heroism and sacrifice of our armed forces in a "war" that costs so much to the combatants and innocent victims.

    I wonder if McCain is so onboard with the Iraq fiasco because he was never able to come to terms with his own sacrifices in Vietnam. There are many parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. It was extraordinarily painful for many combatants to hear that their fighting was immoral or useless, not to mention coming home to a less than enthusiastic welcome. It is unacceptably painful for many Americans to ever admit that the country can do wrong with it's policies and armed forces. One has to draw the painful conclusion that America is great because of what we do, not because we are inherently infallible. If what we do is wrong or stupid, then we must stand tall and admit it, and apologize first to the men and women who fought the fight for people like Dick Cheney and his ilk. That being said, Rockefeller's comments are detestable.

    April 8, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Dan

    It is a different experience with a culture, where you are thousands of feet in the air using laser guided missles (which DID exist and WERE used) – then to be captured and tourtured.

    I'm not sure how most people in the US would feel about a guantanamo bay terrorist suspect being tortured (like wat,erboarding), if there was one who was regularly blowing up towns that had military bases in them... well, if they actually survived my personal reaction to that, when they got back home, I doubt they could say the held a perspective that wasn't based in anything but utter disgust for me and my people.
    So... McCain may be a hero and suffered horribly, but I doubt he can make decisions about current enemies without that experience leveraging the outcome substancially. – then again, he is about a million years old and may barely remember more than what he's had written in speeches for him.

    April 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Tony Z- MD

    Lets see a US Democratic Senator talks about the Republican nominee for President- Sen. McCain- also known as Bush III. Folks want Obama to denounce. I guess McCain will be saying the same when those swiftboat type adds start rolling in.

    I guess we are really into SILLY SEASON.

    April 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Deb

    I'm not surprised.

    I'm married to a former Marine who served in Cuba and Viet Nam.

    He is so insulted by Obama that he changes the channel anytime his name is even mentioned.

    No way is this guy Main Stream America!

    He is an insult to our Troops and all that have served this great nation!

    April 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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