A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

McCain Ad “Promise”: Promises Same Falsehood

The McCain-Palin campaign released a new ad called “Promise,” which the campaign says will air nationally. But it contains a whopper we’ve addressed a few times:

The ad claims Sen. Barack Obama “voted to cut off funding for our troops.” But a McCain campaign press release announcing the ad cites the same vote we addressed in an earlier article on this misleading claim. The fact is, while it’s true Obama voted against a GOP-backed troop funding bill once, he voted in favor of a Democratic version of the bill that included a non-binding call for withdrawing troops from Iraq. (He also voted for funding the troops 10 times prior to that.) President Bush vetoed the Democratic bill, and McCain, who wasn’t present for the vote, supported the president’s veto.

McCain repeated the claim during the Sept. 26 presidential debate, and Obama accurately defended his position:

Obama: I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn’t have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops. We had a legitimate difference …

The ad also features quotes from Sen. Joe Biden during the primary campaign, condemning his congressional colleagues who voted against funding the troops. The quotes are accurate, but at the time, Biden was competing against Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, both of whom voted against the Republican-backed war funding bill. Biden voted for it.

As we noted in our earlier article, McCain urged and applauded the president’s veto of the Democrats’ version of a bill to fund the war effort. We concluded:”Based on those facts, it would be literally true to say that ‘McCain urged a veto of funding for our troops.’ But that would be oversimplified to the point of being seriously misleading, which is exactly the problem with McCain’s ad.”

So Biden’s indictment of his Senate colleagues who voted against the GOP’s supplemental funding bill, could just as easily be directed at McCain, who actively worked to squelch the Democrats’ bill, which Biden also voted for.