Arizona Sen. John McCain sought to build on his recent campaign momentum by launching his first television ads in New Hampshire last week. The ads, “One Man” and “Live Free” talk up McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
Of the “One Man” spot, Matt Stearns of McClatchy Newspapers writes that “the ad hammers home that McCain knows war in a way no other candidate does, drawing a sharp - if subtle - contrast with three other men: fellow Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. None of them served in the military.”
But while on the trail, McCain had to deal with some controversial comments he made in an interview with BeliefNet.com. In response to a question about whether a Muslim could become president, he said, “I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles … personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn’t mean that I’m sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don’t say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would — I just feel that that’s an important part of our qualifications to lead.”
Later, Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker put out a statement clarifying his comments.
“The senator did not intend to assert that members of one religious faith or another have a greater claim to American citizenship over another,” she said. “Read in context, his interview with BeliefNet makes clear that people of all faiths are entitled to all the rights protected by the Constitution, including the right to practice their religion freely.”
The campaign also announced it’s rolling out the Straight Talk Express again. In an e-mail to supporters, McCain said anyone who donated to the campaign before the end of the third quarter of fundraising would be entered into a contest to accompany the candidate on a bus tour. On Monday, the fundraising deadline had come and gone, but the McCain campaign has not yet released its 3rd quarter numbers.
Looking ahead, the senator returns to Florida and South Carolina on Tuesday. After a finance event in Tallahassee, he is scheduled to travel to Westminster, S.C., for a speech at the Blue Ridge Electric Co-Op PAC Appreciation Dinner. On Wednesday, McCain will continue his trip in the Palmetto State with stops in Camden, Orangeburg, and Charleston.