DNC Sees Cindy McCain’s Wealth as Fair Game

By Natalie Gewargis

Jul 18, 2008 11:55am

CNN this week took a look at Cindy McCain’s wealth this week, reporting that she "is not only a wife to Senator John McCain, she is also his meal ticket. Her reported 2006 income of more than $6 million exceeded her husband’s earnings 16 times over. That money pays for a wealthy lifestyle of high end condos, an Arizona ranch, flying in a corporate jet, and more." The story quoted a writer from the Politico saying that her beer distributorship funded his first congressional campaign and has subsidized his presidential campaign.

CNN correspondent David Mattingly reported that "as president, McCain would run a mammoth bureaucracy with regulatory control over alcohol sales, distribution and consumption. The next administration would probably have to deal with issues of beer taxes, labeling, maybe even the politically sensitive international merger just announced involving the giant Anheuser-Busch. These are all issues that could create a conflict because they could have an impact on the McCain family bottom line."

The story noted this 2005 letter  from McCain’s son Andrew — posted in a Los Angeles Times story about possible conflicts regarding McCain’s political career and Cindy’s business — lobbying against a federal beer labeling proposal.

Asked by host Campbell Brown if he saw any "red flags" in this story, DNC adviser Jamal Simmons said yes.

"The real question is not so much about what Cindy McCain does for a living," Simmons said, "She can do whatever she wants to do for a living. This is America."

Simmons said the issue is that McCain had promised "to lead a transparent government, and he’s so far, he’s not leading a transparent campaign…He hasn’t talked about how much he pays, or why he doesn’t pay full fare for those airplane flights he flies around that (corporate) jet. He doesn’t talk about what’s going to happen to his Cindy McCain if he goes into the White House. And so the question is, of course he listens to somebody like Phil Gramm who thinks that the economy is all in our heads, or the economic problems are all mental, because with John McCain, he has eight houses. They spend $750,000 on credit cards in one month. And he’s flying around the country in his corporate jet."

Simmons said that shows that McCain is "not in touch where most of Americans are. That month where he was spending $750,000 on credit card debts, it was from March 2007 until the beginning of 2008, middle of 2008. And that’s when they were spending all the money of credit cards. They would not have been able to keep the John McCain campaign alive had he not had this personal wealth."

Republicans say this shows the Obama campaign is hypocritical when it gets mad when Michelle Obama is attacked, since Democrats are attacking Cindy. Democrats say you can’t compare impugning Michelle’s patriotism with questioning whether Sen. McCain is improperly using his wife’s fortune, or asking about potential financial conflicts of interest.

This all comes the same week the Washington State GOP put up a web video attacking Michelle , prompting — per Ben Smith at the Politico — the Obama campaign’s Bill Burton to say "With our economy in shambles, our nation at war and our challenges mounting by the day, it is beyond sad that the Republican Party of Washington would spend its time launching shameful attacks on the wife of a candidate–attacks our current First Lady Laura Bush has decried .  Michelle Obama has lived the American Dream, and it’s love of country that leads Michelle and Barack to make this race.  But how does it strengthen our country to pollute our politics with false and mean-spirited attacks?  John McCain promised us better.  It’s up to him to curb these tactics, or take responsibility for them."

RNC spox Danny Diaz responded with: "Is Barack Obama going to speak to his operative’s attacks against Cindy McCain?" (That’s a reference to Simmons.) "The WA GOP’s actions were completely independent of the McCain campaign and RNC, the same cannot be said for Obama’s handpicked spokesperson at the DNC.

In an interview with Glamour magazine published Thursday, Sen. Obama said he didn’t want anyone in his campaign or the DNC to attack Cindy McCain. "I’ve said this before: I would never have my campaign engage in a concerted effort to make Cindy McCain an issue, and I would not expect the Democratic National Committee or people who were allied with me to do it. Because essentially, spouses are civilians. They didn’t sign up for this. They’re supporting their spouse," Obama said

What say you?

- jpt

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