06/17/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain Campaign Removes Clinton Slur From Website Months After Posting

Does John McCain's campaign have its own message on Sen. Hillary Clinton straight? Last Tuesday, during his poorly received speech in front of the now infamous lime-green backdrop in Louisiana, Sen. John McCain began an attempt to woo disaffected supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton when he said she deserved "great respect" for her campaign.

Before McCain decided to launch a charm offensive, however, he might have scrubbed his own website free of gender-loaded expletives. As of this morning, the Center for American Progress Action center discovered that JohnMcCain.com still featured a comment culled from Andrew Sullivan's blog last November, in which Clinton is described as "a bitch." By 12:30 this afternoon, however, the page was pulled down from view.

Click here for a screengrab of what the McCain campaign immediately realized could become a public relations disaster.

The Arizona Republican's campaign is, of course, not responsible for the original post's existence, though its placement on McCain's official site lends the "critique" something like sanctioned status. It is, at a minimum, a loss of message control at precisely the same time many conservatives are wondering whether McCain can defeat Barack Obama on the communications front.

And it's not the first time the Republican nominee has appeared callous in response to a sexist cry aimed Clinton's way, either. In November of last year, a female questioner at a town hall event asked McCain "how do we beat the bitch?" McCain appeared to laugh in a convivial manner before answering the question straightforwardly.

In an attempt to quiet the minor uproar that followed, McCain's campaign issued a statement saying: "McCain has on many occasions expressed his respect for Senator Clinton, just as he did when confronted with the question in South Carolina."

Then, as now, "respect" was the watchword of the McCain camp when it comes to Clinton. But how many slip-ups will their intended audience endure before judging the outreach enterprise as less than fully sincere?