July 1st, 2008
12:17 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain surrogate slams Clark's NATO record

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/01/art.clark.a.gi.jpg caption=]

(CNN) - As John McCain’s campaign continued to characterize a Sunday comment by former Gen. Wesley Clark as an attack on the former Navy pilot’s military service, a McCain surrogate countered Tuesday by criticizing Clark’s record as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

Orson Swindle, who was a prisoner of war with McCain in Vietnam, told reporters on a campaign conference call Tuesday that the high-ranking former military officials who back the presumptive Republican nominee might not hold Clark in high regard.

"General Clark probably wouldn't get that much praise from this group,” said Swindle. “I can't speak for them, but we all know that General Clark, as high-ranking as he is, his record in his last command I think was somewhat less than stellar."

Clark’s last active duty position was at the helm of NATO from 1997-2000, during which he commanded joint military activity in the Kosovo conflict.

The Obama surrogate drew controversy over the weekend when he told an interviewer he did not think “riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,” a reference to McCain’s experience during the Vietnam War.

On Monday, the McCain campaign called the comment a direct attack on the Arizona senator’s military record and announced the launch of a Truth Squad designed to respond to similar remarks in the future.

"No matter how he sugarcoats it, he is trying to question John's service," said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on the Tuesday call, terming Clark’s comments a “huge mistake.”

Swindle said Tuesday that the Obama campaign was looking to deliberately denigrate McCain’s military experience. “This is pretty much a deliberate effort to tear down the credibility of John McCain," said the former Marine.

“Frankly Sen. Obama’s been doing a lot of winking and nodding for letting this go on,” said Swindle, who called on Obama to “display some leadership to tell his surrogates, ‘Knock this crap off.’”

“This is about Senator Obama,” said Swindle. “If he can’t even lead his surrogates, he won’t do a very good job of leading the U.S. troops.”

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (262 Responses)
  1. FactCheck

    > General Westley Clark has just given us a major reason to vote for John McCain

    Please be our guest but shut the h ell up about it. We don't care about you, about anything you stand for or what your vote means. Good riddance.

    July 1, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. George

    I agree with Clark. I always thought that being sucessful in combat was the more honorable outcome...not getting captured. While I think that enduring captivity is laudible it is NOT heroic. That's a bunch of propaganda I do not get. Things are so messed up in this country's dialogue that nothing is getting through without some idiot interpreting it as ir was NOT said or intended. Candidates and the media alike do this disservice to the voters. The media are like the kid in elementary school who eggs the fight on. Sad!

    July 1, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |




    July 1, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. mb--texas

    well now it is even one each for the campaigns.bet this attack
    on Gen.Clark will not get as much play as the comment by Gen. Clark.
    McCain campaign sounds as if they are holier than anyone.
    McCain will throw out comments trying to upstage Sen.Obama.
    Like the town hall meetings,he knew Sen.Obama would not agree
    to his proposal.Sen.McCain and his will play cotcha through the

    July 1, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. jim, kansas city

    Man was 5 years in prison, multiply that 5 x 365 days.
    For most of you including me in this group, get pissed off if your supervisors ask you to come in saturday or stay late even though gettin paid.
    Think about being locked for 5 years, I am pretty sure they did not hand over flowers in those camps. I read a testimony of one of his navy friends that was in the camp with him. he preached the bible to prisoners he served as a "doctor" to them helping the injured ones.
    If there is one person who in this presidential race who loves his country and his countrymen and will go whatever is in this power to protect them, than that John McCain.
    Now in OBAMA camp or "jehova's vitness' " , they are promoting HOPE its hard to compete with that. But there is not track record.
    It is really hard for me to accept somebody to work for me especially highest office in country with no CV, except they are good speaker or professional BS. I hope we dont find out the hard way

    July 1, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. Venus

    If McCain and his supporters are so proud of McCain's POW years how come they are so upset about Clarks statements?

    Ha... we should be able to check McCain's POW years and see why they think he would make a better president!

    Ha,ha,ha,ha..... This is called Swift-Kick!

    Go Dems! It's about time you took this fight to the GOP!

    July 1, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Ron SLO, CA.

    Clark is right. The real question is where these people when it was time to uphold the military honor of John Kerry. Fact Kerry served his country, Bush and Cheney did not. I guess you have to be rebuplican to honorably serve your country. Just like Clinton Obama is playing their game better than they are now they want to cry.

    July 1, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. David G

    I guess this man Orson "Swindle" is living up to his family name. In order to be a true patriot one must be honest. Oh well, Orson Swindle failed this test. McCain does seem to surround himself with some very unsavory characters. This is a good preview of what a McCain administration would be like. On top of this, who wouldn't want a President that admits he knows nothing about the economy and little about computers!

    July 1, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. john williams san diego, ca.

    Wesley Clark was a pathetic General who had to cry and beg to get his 4th star..WEASLEY Clark

    July 1, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Texan for Progression

    Tim from WV, I feel sorry for your fellow statesmen. They must be shaking in their shoes at the fact that someone as rediculous as you is representing them. I'll bet that you condemned Obama for his relationship with Rev. Wright before and now you do the same once he rejected him. Obama showed character by trying to stand by Wright up until Wright went overboard and I agree with each move Obama made. Obama so called "gave up" his church for the church's benefit because it was the subject of unfair judgement. He never gave up his grandmother. Stop forming opinions and drawing conclusions based on snipits of information that are intended to keep you ignorant of the whole truth.

    July 1, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Glenn

    To tear down John McCain's credibility doesn't require tearing down his military record at all. All Yyou just have to look at is his affair with Cindy while being married to his first wife, his use of his power and influence to keep his current wife out of jail for her stealing drugs to support her drug habit, his connection to the Keating 5 scandal and his 95% voting record to support Bush's disasterous national economic policies and totaly failed policy to end terrorism including the capture of Osama Bin Laden. He voted for a war based on lies by the Bush administration and his current support of that war and failure to support our returning veterans. McCain supports soon-to-be $5 a gallon gasoline, higher unemployment, American jobs going overseas, a mortgage industry scandal and a list that can go on and on and on. McCain's credibility is total shambles and his precious military record is still intact. His military record and his POW status and his hero status still don't equate with the vision, ability, intelligence or the experience to serve as President and Commander-in-chief.

    July 1, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Tina, NC

    I gotta admit that even though I am a supporter of Obama I'm alittle miffed that he didn't back Clark on this.
    Clark is 100% right and this has been blown way out of proportion.
    McCain, from day one, has used his Military experience to promote himself as to why he would be better to handle the wars, and our national security. If he is going to do that then we need to be able to ask him what specifically he did that makes him in a "better" position than Obama to handle those situations.

    If you ask me, all the experience in the world can not justify continuing to keep our troops there when the situation is not going to change. We have to have a new approach and I believe Obama has a much better approach on this one.

    July 1, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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