If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Hire ‘Em

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Sen. John McCain, who was smeared mercilessly by the Rove machine when he ran for president in 2000, has hired Terry Nelson to manage his 2008 presidential campaign, if such a campaign materializes. Nelson was national political director of George W. Bush’s 2004 campagin, but his most recent fame comes from having masterminded the “Call me” spot that is considered to have stirred up every racist thought in Tennessee.

For the record, Nelson is also a protege of Karl Rove, who managed a stunning smear campaign against McCain in South Carolina in 2000, publicizing his wife’s problems with prescription drugs, and suggesting that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock (he had not). Instead of condemning Bush’s 2000 South Carolina campaign tactics, McCain (literally) embraced Bush. In his interview with Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: They were very personal, very harsh, and they questioned your war record.

JOHN MCCAIN: And I had to get over it. And I got over it, and I don’t look back in anger. I look back as running for president as the greatest experience of my life.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s one thing to get over it. It’s another to stand with and campaign with the man who did it to you, George Bush.

JOHN MCCAIN: I put it behind me. I put it behind me. Absolutely, we have a very good, friendly relationship.

AMY GOODMAN: Has he ever explained himself to you, why he attacked your wife, Cindy, and your kid?

JOHN MCCAIN: I can only––my discussions with the president are private. Okay? Thanks, good.

But wait…there’s more. Nelso was also James Tobin’s supervisor. Tobin, you will recall, is the New Hampshire Republican who was recently convicted of scheming to jam Democratic Party phone lines in New Hampshire during the 2002 elections. He is also an ally of Swift Boat veteran Chris LaCivita, and also part of Tom DeLay’s PAC problems in Texas.

In other words, if there is sleaze in the vicinity, Terry Nelson will be found wallowing in it. Exactly the kind of person “independent,” “maverick,” “straight shooter” McCain likes best.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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