Text of the video ad shown above:
Announcer: Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan.
He hadn’t been to Iraq in years.
He voted against funding our troops.
And now, he made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops.
Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras.
John McCain is always there for our troops.
McCain. Country first.
John McCain: I’m John McCain and I approve this message.
The 30-second ad will run during "Saturday Night Live" in Denver. It will also run in Colorado which is an important swing state for the upcoming election, Then it will air in the Washington DC, and in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, another key swing state.
McCain has also gone on ABC News' George Stephanopoulos show, This Week, and said, "If I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event."
Obama's campaign reportedly cancelled the trip because Pentagon officials told the senator he could not make the visit accompanied by his campaign staff and because of concerns that the visit would be viewed as politically motivated.
But McCain questioned his rival's justification: "I know of no Pentagon regulation that would have prevented him from going there -- without the media and the press and all of the associated people. Nothing that I know of would have kept him from visiting those wounded troops."
McCain went on to note that "in Landstuhl, Germany, when I went through, I visited the hospital. ... I think people make a judgment by what we do and what we don’t do. He certainly found time to do other things."
Of course the Obama campaign has also changed their reasoning, publicly on why he didn't visit the troops.
- Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs “said the stop was canceled because Obama decided ‘it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign.’” (AP)
- An Obama campaign adviser “said the U.S. military saw the visit as a campaign stop. ‘We learned from the Pentagon last night that the visit would be viewed instead as a campaign event,’ the adviser, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, said in a statement.” (AP)
- David Axelrod “said that that Pentagon notified an Obama military advisor only yesterday or the day before that he should not come. The Pentagon ‘viewed this as a campaign event and therefore they said he should not come’” (Chicago Sun-Times)
- A military official working on the Obama visit “said because political candidates are prohibited from using military installations as campaign backdrops, Obama's representatives were told, ‘he could only bring two or three of his Senate staff member, no campaign officials or workers.’ In addition, ‘Obama could not bring any media. Only military photographers would be permitted to record Obama's visit.’ The official said ‘We didn't know why’ the request to visit the wounded troops was withdrawn. ‘He (Obama) was more than welcome. We were all ready for him.’” (NBC)
Nothing prevented him from quietly going in his Senatorial capacity, foregoing the photo ops and the media circus and just visiting the troops.
The claim that it could have been seen as a political prop, or opportunity, could have simply been avoided by bringing no one and just visiting them. Hence, not "seen" but done anyway.
It was a conscious choice not to do so, and his campaign can complain that it shouldn't be used against him, but this is a man that wants to become the commander in chief of our military, yet he could not just go, alone, and visit the wounded troops?
[Update] Via Hot Air we see the video of McCain speaking with Stephanopolous.
Morrisey also points to Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, Joe Repya, who speaks eloquently of why breaking his commitment to the troops and not visiting them looked so bad.
“The most solemn duty of a commander in chief is to fulfill his responsibility to the men and women who serve this country in uniform. Barack Obama had scheduled a visit with wounded American troops who have served with honor and distinction in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he broke that commitment, instead flitting from one European capital to the next. Several explanations were offered, none was convincing and each was at odds with the statements of American military leaders in Germany and Washington. For a young man so apt at playing president, Barack Obama badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks. Visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn’t be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes.” Joe Repya, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired)
He then describes how his heartfelt words are being received by the left.... hate mail.