I got pulled away on another story when this first came up Friday afternoon, but I found Romney’s comments attempting to tie the anti-Mormon calls to McCain-Feingold to be a cheap shot. Keep in mind that the comments came on the same day that McCain strongly condemned the anti-Mormon push polls, and called on the NH Attorney General to investigate the matter.
CBS’s Horserace notes:
When asked about McCain launching an investigation into the push polling, Romney said “it’s kind of ironic that Senator McCain is filing that request for an investigation.”
He added: “Senator McCain is the father of McCain-Feingold and it’s McCain-Feingold that opens the pathway for this very kind of political technique. McCain-Feingold is the monster that we’re having to deal with here.”
This is problematic on several levels. First, it’s ungracious for Romney not to show some appreciation for McCain joining him in condemning the attacks in the strongest terms and pushing for an investigation. Second, it raises the spectre of blaming McCain for the calls at a time when rumors are swirling and every campaign deserves the presumption of innocence. Thirdly, while I am not a fan of McCain-Feingold, the practice of push-polling long pre-dates the legislation, as McCain himself can testify to given that he himself was a victim of the practice during the 2000 South Carolina primary. Even if in the end it turns out that some 527 or other outside group was behind the calls, Romney presumably had no way of knowing it at the time he made his comments.
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