Timing and Sourcing Suggest the GOP, Not Dems, Behind McCain "Smear Campaign"

The McCain campaign has had two months to prepare for the New York Times story about his cozy relationship eight years ago with a young blond woman who happened to be a lobbyist.

The campaign's rapid response team had a news release out last night that twice used the phrase "smear campaign" to describe the Times story:

"It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.
"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."
They have had this response in the can for two months, so it bears some scrutiny. The word "smear" is predictable but to use it twice in conjunction with "campaign" is interesting.

One news story is hardly a "campaign." It is obvious from even a casual reading of the Times article that the story has been lawyered to near death. But is there more? The McCain team's use of the word "campaign" suggests there could be.

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