John McCain’s issues with the Club for Growth, and vice versa, involve more than just McCain’s voting record. In the 2002 election, Club for Growth ran ads supporting Jeff Flake against a candidate favored by McCain. This did not sit well with the senator.
McCain told Wolf Blitzer during the 2002 campaign that his ban on issue ads 60 days before an election was “because of outfits like this so-called Club for Growth. They came into Arizona last year and ran hundreds of thousands of dollars of negative attack ads. No one knew who they were. No one knew who their funders were.”
Well, the club says it did not run negative ads. Plus, its list of donors who give more than $200 is public record. McCain was not being truthful. The Club, I’m sure, remembers well that McCain singled it out as the reason Washington has to silence citizen speech two months before an election. And Mccain, no doubt, remembers the Club’s strong opposition to McCain-Feingold. There is no love between the two.
In fact, I think McCain could well have a devil of a time getting the nomination solely because of McCain-Feingold, for this reason: He tried to silence conservative activist groups like Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform that have impressive mailing lists. How many GOP activists and conservative primary voters belong to or listen to any number of the non-profit conservative organizations McCain tried to silence? Lots.