Barack Obama canceled a pre-planned visit to the troops in Germany yesterday after being told by the Pentagon that the trip would violate a Pentagon policy prohibiting campaign stops on military installations. No problem there.
However, the McCain campaign is now blasting Obama:
The McCain camp has nonetheless been using Obama's canceled trip to insinuate that he's anti-troops. "Barack Obama is wrong," McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers said in a statement yesterday. "It is never 'inappropriate' to visit our men and women in the military."
The problem here is that the McCain campaign was denied a visit to a military base under the same policy back in April. Of course, there was no outcry or false outrage from Brian Rogers at that time.
With Department of Defense rules prohibiting political campaigning on military bases, it was determined that in some cases McCain could visit the installations as a senator but could not engage in any political activity or have news media present.
McCain campaign officials said Thursday they intentionally did not campaign on military property.
"We follow the rules," said senior McCain adviser Steve Schmidt.
Because all three presidential candidates are sitting senators, DoD officials have privately noted for some weeks that the whole matter of drawing the line between Senate business and campaigning is sensitive.
A U.S. Army official told CNN there are no pending requests from any of the campaigns to visit Army bases at this time. He noted that Sen. Barack Obama recently visited Fayetteville, North Carolina, but did not go to Fort Bragg; and Sen. Hillary Clinton visited Killeen, Texas, but did not go to Fort Hood.
For his Wednesday visit to the U.S. Naval Academy -- of which he is a graduate -- McCain was allowed to make a political appearance at the academy's football stadium because it is privately owned property and is not owned or run by the U.S. military.
Earlier in the day, when McCain had breakfast with midshipmen on academy grounds, it was closed to the press and considered a private event.
The military spokesman points out that any U.S. senator could also request to visit the academy or any military installation.
But the Navy declined a McCain campaign request to speak at the Naval Aviation Museum at the naval base in Pensacola, Florida, because it is a military owned installation and is located on the base, the official said.
McCain did attend an airshow over the weekend at the Navy base in Meridian, Mississippi, because it was open to the general public. But he declined to answer political questions from reporters traveling with him.
I understand that the McCain campaign is disorganized and pathologically clueless when it comes to utilizing the media, but they're clearly being dishonest in this case. McCain is demonstrably criticizing Obama for following a Pentagon rule to which the McCain campaign itself has been subjected recently. That's a fact. So this seems to be a simple cheap shot at Obama, in the hopes that the media won't be internet savvy enough (i.e., able to use Google) to figure out the whole story.
"We follow the rules," Steve Schmidt from the McCain campaign said.
Exactly. And they have no problem attacking Obama for doing the same. That's the very definition of "double standard."
Regardless, the Pentagon will now be under more pressure to keep the playing field even--and to keep the policy consistent on both sides.
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