Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sought to distance himself from adviser Charlie Black, who told Fortune Magazine that another terrorist attack on the United States would be “a big advantage” to McCain’s campaign. McCain rejected the comments, saying, “If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree.”
However, McCain himself has made similar assertions in the past. In 2004, just three days before the presidential election, McCain argued that a recently-released video-tape by Osama bin Laden would prove “very helpful to President Bush”:
U.S. Sen. John McCain, campaigning in southwestern Connecticut on Saturday, said Osama bin Laden’s video message to Americans will likely energize President Bush’s re-election campaign.
“I think it’s very helpful to President Bush,” said McCain, R-Ariz., while stumping in Stamford for U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays. “It focuses America’s attention on the war on terrorism. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I think it does have an effect.” [AP, 10/30/04]
In the 18-minute video, bin Laden declared that al Qaeda was still motivated to attack the United States again.
More recently, McCain indicated that the terrorist attack that killed Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto would help him politically, as CNN’s Dana Bash recounted on the Situation Room yesterday:
BASH: I was actually with Sen. McCain the very day that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. … He really did understand from that moment that this was something that he thought could help him in the race at that point to be the Republican nominee. In fact, at that event that very day I asked Sen. McCain if he thought it would help his political campaign and he said pretty much “Yes.” … So it’s not a secret that back then that Sen. McCain and his campaign thought it would help.
To be sure — unlike Black seemed to do — McCain in 2004 was not advocating a terrorist attack. Yet just like his trusted adviser, McCain — who claimed yesterday he “cannot imagine” why Black would say such a thing — has not hesitated to claim political advantage from acts of terror.