MSNBC's Hall: Democrats Have Not Attacked Cindy McCain

Tamron Hall and Mike Dorning, MSNBC News Live | NewsBusters.orgIn the wake of Barack Obama’s complaints featured in Glamour magazine about Republican attacks on his wife, “MNSBC News Live” host Tamron Hall interviewed the Chicago Tribune’s Mike Dorning on the subject.

After asking Dorning if Democrats have ever attacked Republican spouses, Hall claimed that Cindy McCain has not been a target for the Democrats in this election:

We have not seen the Democrats, uh, during this election cycle attack Cindy McCain. Do you at all believe that that will happen if these attacks from the Republicans continue? Will it be a tit-for-tat that could inevitably make voters feel very uncomfortable?

Dorning went along with the assertion and even brought up criticism of Cindy McCain in the process:

On Cindy McCain, I don’t think people are gonna attack her unless they think it will help the political cause. And the only place I could see something coming up there that would actually be politically effective would be over the whole foreign buyout of Budweiser. Her family owns a lot of stock in Anheuser-Busch and obviously she would benefit from that. But in general it doesn’t quite fit the tone that the Barack Obama campaign wants to establish that they’re supposedly getting beyond attack politics. So I don’t see how that would profit them.

Of course, Cindy McCain has already been the subject of Democratic attacks. As Jake Tapper noted in his Political Punch blog in May, the Democratic National Committee attacked Mrs. McCain for not publicly releasing her tax returns:

[F]ailing to release Cindy McCain's returns, the McCain campaign is raising serious concerns about his own credibility, about how McCain's position as a U.S. Senator may have benefited John and Cindy McCain's business ventures, and about how McCain's political career has benefited from her personal wealth."

While some state GOP organizations have attacked Michelle Obama, the Republican National Committee has not. In fact, after the Tennessee Republican Party released its ad critical of Michelle Obama, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan rebuked them, insisting, "The RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics."

As Townhall.com’s Amanda Carpenter reported, DNC communications consultant Jamal Simmons, a frequent pro-Obama TV pundit, claimed that Mrs. McCain’s wealth presents a “red flag.” Simmons also brought up Mrs. McCain’s credit card bills and the discounted price the McCain campaign has paid to travel on his wife’s corporate jet to campaign events.

And who can forget the media’s treatment of Recipegate when FoodNetwork.com recipes were attributed as Cindy McCain’s recipes on the McCain campaign Web site. For this, McCain earned the title of Keith Olbermann’s Worst Person in the World.

Indeed, liberals have cooked up a cottage industry on the Web in peddling anti-Cindy McCain gear. Daily Kos member LunkHead asked readers on a June 20 blog post, “What Sort of Cindy McCain Paraphernalia Should I Sell?” in reference to her former addiction to prescription painkillers.

The transcript of the segment, which aired at 11:01 a.m. on the July 18 “MSNBC News Live,” follows:

TAMRON HALL, host: Meantime, Barack Obama says his wife, Michelle, should be – should not be fair game for political attacks and now he wants both campaigns to lay off the presidential spouses. The Washington state Republican Party is not listening and they have a new ad with Michelle Obama as the target.

[clip of ad]

HALL: Obama told Glamour Magazine quote “I don’t have a thick skin when it comes to criticism of my wife. And you know, the problem is that rarely do these folks have the guts to say it to your face.” Mike Dorning is Washington correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He’s covering the Obama campaign for us. So Mike does Senator Obama’s argument that his wife is not fair game in these attacks, does it weigh anywhere?

MIKE DORNING, Chicago Tribune: Oh, it’s a good argument to make and it’s an argument that’s been made throughout American history. If you’re attacking the spouse or the child of a candidate, it’s an easy way of hitting back at the other side. Just remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt when there was sort of a scandal of him using a plane to travel around the country and bring his dog, he turned that around into an attack on his little dog Fala. “They’re not content just to attack me, not content just to attack my wife, but they have to attack my little dog Fala.” It’s a great way of pivoting from that kind of criticism.

HALL: Well, Mike let me ask you this. We were talking earlier about examples of Republicans attacking Hillary Clinton, Teresa Heinz Kerry and in this new election Michelle Obama. Are there any cases where the Democrats have pointed the finger, if you will, their attack finger at the Republican spouses?

DORNING: I can’t think of like an attack finger per se but you remember that during the Reagan administration there were times when there sort of was a unflattering portrait of Nancy Reagan presented. For instance when she was using an astrologer, uh, when she bought the White House china. People have used Republican spouses as well to try to caricature the couple

HALL: We have not seen the Democrats, uh, during this election cycle attack Cindy McCain. Do you at all believe that that will happen if these attacks from the Republicans continue? Will it be a tit-for-tat that could inevitably make voters feel very uncomfortable?

DORNING: Yeah, I think that the only reason why there’s Republican attacks on Michelle Obama is to try to raise questions about Obama. If you attack Michelle on a, um, on a patriotism subject then maybe that will reflect back on Barack Obama. On Cindy McCain, I don’t think people are gonna attack her unless they think it will help the political cause. And the only place I could see something coming up there that would actually be politically effective would be over the whole foreign buyout of Budweiser. Her family owns a lot of stock in Anheuser-Busch and obviously she would benefit from that. But in general it doesn’t quite fit the tone that the Barack Obama campaign wants to establish that they’re supposedly getting beyond attack politics. So I don’t see how that would profit them.

HALL: Okay Mike I know you’re traveling overseas with the Obama campaign following the trip. We’re gonna talk with you about that a little later. Thank you.