POLITICS

McCain Speaker: Have Your Tiger Woods, We've Got McCain

04/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

At a campaign stop today, Sen. John McCain's introductory speaker took a sharp and potentially sensitive swipe at Sen. Barack Obama, saying that McCain was "the real audacity of hope" and not just a political "Tiger Woods."

Former Army Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, who introduced the Arizona senator at a Vets For Freedom rally, sought to contrast McCain's "lifetime of service to our nation" against the lack of resolve of his political opponents. And while he never addressed Obama by name, he did offer this nugget.

"Rest assured," he told the crowd, "that men like Senator McCain will be the goal and the men that my two young boys will emulate and admire. You can have your Tiger Woods, we've got Senator McCain."

The line, first reported by NBC and Hotline, received a loud roar from the crowd and, standing behind and to the left of Bellavia, McCain let out an approving laugh. But considering the rate at which Tiger Woods is winning golf tournaments these days, McCain's camp may be hoping the analogy doesn't prove true.

And considering the pins-and-needles environment that is the current political landscape, the comment has the potential of being interpreted as racially divisive.

That said, the Tiger Woods line has been deployed earlier in the campaign, by GOP ad-guru Alex Castellanos

"All the sudden you've got two dots, and two dots make a line," he was quoted as saying in Politico last month. "You start getting some sense of who he is, and it's not the Obama you thought. He's not the Tiger Woods of politics."

And on an Obama conference call today, Teamsters President James Hoffa mentioned Woods as well -- in a flattering manner: "With regard to his race, he's African American. I know he's of mixed race, but, you know, he's like a Tiger Woods. He's just a great person that's really excited a lot of people. We're not detecting a lot of discussion about his religion or his race here."

Perhaps of equal political significance was Bellavia's broad hit at the U.S. congress, which he accused of not having the conviction or courage to win the Iraq War.

"Our patriotism demands the just defense of our nation and the promotion of freedom and liberty in places where there is none," he said. "As a soldier it often appears that our civilian leadership in Congress gravely misunderstand the consequence of victory or defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Their will to win has been replaced by political maneuvering and partisan politics."

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