2012 White House race 'nastiest' ever
19 March 2012, 09:04
United States - The Republican campaign to choose a candidate to take on President Barack Obama in November is "the nastiest" ever, presidential campaign veteran John McCain said on Sunday.
McCain should know - he was the target of a barrage of destructive rumours himself in his losing 2000 campaign against George Bush to become the Republican presidential candidate.
In an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, he blamed the mudslinging on the so-called "super PACs," which can raise and spend unlimited sums in support of a candidate so long as their campaign activities are not directly co-ordinated.
"The super PACs have played a key role, unfortunately in my view, because most are negative ads, [have] driven up unfavourables of all the candidates and made it much more difficult to win the election," McCain told NBC television's Meet the Press.
He called the US Supreme Court decision that made super PACs possible in 2010 "the worst decision the United States Supreme Court has made in many years," saying it was the outcome of "naivety and sheer ignorance".
"This is the nastiest [campaign] I have ever seen," McCain added.
McCain has endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who is battling former senator Rick Santorum, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas congressman Ron Paul for their party's nomination.
During the 2000 Republican primary, McCain was the target of damaging rumours that he had fathered a black child out of wedlock. His adopted daughter Bridget is from Bangladesh.
Other rumours suggested the Arizona senator was unstable as a result of being tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and that his wife Cindy was a drug addict.
Although McCain lost the nomination fight to Bush, he went on to win it in 2008, only to lose the presidential elections to Obama.
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