ABC News’ Bret Hovell, Teddy Davis, and James Gerber Report: McCain adviser Charlie Black expressed regret Monday for telling Fortune Magazine that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil would be "a big advantage" for the presumptive Republican nominee.
"Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," Black told Fortune Magazine.
The Obama campaign chided Black, calling his remarks "a complete disgracce."
"The fact that John McCain’s top advisor says that a terrorist attack on American soil would be a ‘big advantage’ for their political
campaign is a complete disgrace, and is exactly the kind of politics that needs
to change," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
The terrorism statement from Black came in an interview in which the veteran GOP strategist conceded that the U.S. public often holds the party of the incumbent president responsible for economic distress.
Black said a terrorist attack could rebound to McCain’s general-election advantage after saying that the Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war was helped prior to the New Hampshire primary by the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," Black told Fortune Magazine. "But (McCain’s) knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sought to distance himself from Black’s comments by talking about the ways in which he has worked to prevent terrorist attacks.
"I cannot imagine why he would say it," said McCain. "It’s not true. I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America."
"My record is very clear," he continued. "The Armed Services Committee, and pieces of legislation. Sponsoring with Joe Lieberman the 9/11 Commission so we could find out the causes and how to fix the challenges that we face to fix the security of our nation. I cannot imagine it. And, uh. So, I would…If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree."
McCain made his comments during a Monday afternoon media availability in Fresno, Calif.
After McCain sought to distance himself from his adviser’s comments, Black expressed regret.
Reading from hand-written notes, Black said, “I deeply regret the comments — they were
inappropriate. I recognize that John McCain has devoted his
entire adult life to protecting his country.”
Black made his comments outside of a McCain fundraiser in Fresno.