McCain Camp Pushes Back on HuffPost Voting Claim

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Hey, Mark Salter, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

Asked why Huffington would make up her story about McCain not voting for Bush, longtime McCain aide Mark Salter — who has previously tangled with the Huffington Post — ripped into her. “Why would she make something up? Because she’s a flake and a poser and an attention-seeking diva. And that’s on the record.”

Arianna has an equally tart response:

Through a spokesperson with the colorful name Tucker Bounds, McCain has denied telling me he didn’t vote for Bush in 2000. “It’s not true,” Bounds told the Washington Post, “and I ask you to consider the source.”

My sentiments exactly — because John McCain has a long history of issuing heartfelt denials of things that were actually true.

As a piece of political jujitsu, Arianna’s claim is sort of brilliant: If it’s true, yeah, sure, it makes McCain’s recent attempts to solidify the GOP base seem craven. (And it confirms the worst suspicions of some Republicans.) If it’s not true — and, honestly, it doesn’t quite scan — no matter how often he crosses party lines, he is, at heart, a loyal Republican and he always has been. And unfortunately for McCain, the distinction between being loyal to his party and loyal to this exceedingly unpopular president is rather fine.

Something I’m sure Arianna knows: McCain’s association with Bush hurts him more than Wright hurts Obama.