Republican presidential candidate John McCain held a town hall meeting in New York City that was carried live on Fox News tonight that was billed as town hall with Democrats and Independents. The problem is that this wasn’t really true. The McCain campaign pre-screened the audience, and invited only supporters to attend.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean said, “Once again John McCain’s campaign is trying to mislead the American people. Senator McCain should understand that after seven years of a President who has divided Americans and pursued a scorched earth policy full of misleading propaganda campaigns, we need a leader who understands he is the President for all Americans not just his supporters. Copying the Bush campaign model of stacking events with his prescreened supporters is not the transparency Americans are looking for. If that is Senator McCain’s idea of straight talk, the American people are in for a long and disappointing campaign season.”
The world found out about the McCain campaign’s deception from Fox News anchor Sheppard Smith who said, “I reported at the top of this hour that the campaign had told us at Fox News that the audience would be made up of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. We have now received a clarification from the campaign and I feel I should pass it along to you.
The McCain campaign distributed tickets to supporters, Mayor Bloomberg, who of course is a registered Republican, and other independent groups.”
You know, I could have sworn that I heard the McCain campaign touting this town hall meeting as featuring Democrats and Independents. I know that they are desperate to cast John McCain as a maverick with across the board appeal, but lying about the composition of his audience for town hall meetings is not the way to do it.
The truth is that Obama’s events attract thousands, and McCain’s hundreds. John McCain is no more a man of change then George W. Bush was a, “reformer with results.” I agree with Dean, if this is the way that the McCain campaign is going to do things, it is going to be a very long fall campaign.