The EFM Feature

Well, I was going to ignore this, but you can’t exactly pretend the top story on the Drudge Report isn’t important:

John McCain’s 95-year-old mother, in a swipe at her son’s rival Mitt Romney, said Friday that Mormons were to blame for the scandal that rocked the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
During an appearance on MSNBC, Roberta McCain laid out why her son, John, deserves to win the Republican presidential nomination. But in evaluating McCain’s primary rivals, she criticized Romney’s Mormon faith and his time in Salt Lake City.
“As far as the Salt Lake City thing, he’s a Mormon and the Mormons of Salt Lake City had caused that scandal. And to clean that up, again, it’s not a subject,” Roberta McCain said.
John McCain quickly stepped in: “The views of my mothers are not necessarily the views of mine.”
“Well, that’s my view and you asked me,” Roberta answered.

In point of fact, it’s not clear to me why the AP dubs Mrs. McCain’s comment “a swipe at…Mitt Romney.” Everyone knows that no matter who created the problems at the Salt Lake Olympics, Governor Romney fixed them when–in light of all the problems–he was put in charge.
That aside, it’s probably worth exploring what (if anything) this means. I suspect some folks have got some conspiracy theories about how this is a plot to get South Carolinians thinking about Mormonism and so forth. That’s possible, but my distinct sense is that it’s not the case. Senator McCain quickly and repeatedly disavowed his mom’s comments–difficult as that is to do. More from the story:

Roberta McCain immediately apologized to her son.
“I didn’t mean to say it,” she said as they stepped away from the cameras.
McCain told The Associated Press after the interview that his mother misspoke.
“Mormons are great people and the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon should play no role whatsoever in people’s decision,” McCain said.
“What she meant was the Olympics were screwed up by the people in Salt Lake when Romney came in and fixed the problems there. But I know my 95-year-old mother is certainly in favor of Mormons.”

Look, none of us think Senator McCain is the best choice for president–the “M” in EFM stands for Mitt, not McCain. But whether one agrees or disagrees with the stances he’s taken over his career, the man’s got more integrity than pretty much the rest of Washington combined. And he showed that yet again yesterday–in part with this incident, I would argue, and also with his response to independent ads that were aired supporting him. While I certainly have no problem with the freedom of speech, much of the Senator’s career has been spent vilifying such expenditures. And now we have a group making them on his behalf. His response was remarkably consistent:

I have always fought for full disclosure of all money spent in federal elections and I have opposed the expenditure of soft money by independent groups trying to influence federal elections. This remains my position and I condemn such spending in this election. To me, the question is not if it’s legal but if it’s really the best way to conduct a campaign. If anyone considering an outside expenditure thinks they are benefitting me I would prefer they not do air the ads. If there are ads up I believe they should come down.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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