Dirtiest Campaign in American History? George Bush vs. John McCain, 2000 South Carolina Primary

Maybe Cindy McCain let hyperbole get the best of her, but she claimed this week that “Barack Obama has waged the dirtiest campaign in American history.” Totally not true, but I do think the McCain’s were victimized by one the dirtiest campaigns in recent memory.

South Carolina 2000 Republican Primary

In the 2000 Republican Primary, John McCain was well on his way to pulling the upset against golden boy and Texas Governor George W. Bush.  Then Karl Rove let the dogs loose.

At a townhall meeting that year in Spartenburg, South Carolina, a woman told McCain a story how her thirteen year old son had received a phone call from a “pollster” calling the Arizona Senator a “cheat” and a “liar.” The woman said that her son had greatly admired the war hero, but now didn’t know what to believe.

The smears in South Carolina kept coming. One push poll phone call asked:  ““Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?” The phone call was in reference to the McCain’s daughter Bridget, adopted from a Bangledesh orphanage.

Leaflets started appearing all over the state that claimed that McCain had committed treason while a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, that he was mentally unstable, that he was gay, and that his wife was a drug addict.


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