Running for Congress in 1982, John McCain was repeatedly assailed as a carpetbagger.
Which he pretty much was.
At a candidates forum when the matter was brought up yet again, McCain responded abruptly, telling his rival, "Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the first district of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi."
It was a devastating remark. In Worth the Fighting For, McCain (and Mark Salter) wrote: "Looking back, I think the race was effectively over right then. I had stunned the audience and finally put to rest the one nagging vulnerability that was still clouding my prospects. But I didn’t know that then. I was just mad and had taken a swing."
My question, regarding McCain’s how-many-houses-do-I-own scandal, is: What should he have said to head off this controversy at the pass?
My suggestion would have been: ‘Truth is, I don’t own any of them, really. Most, if not all of them, are in Cindy’s name. She’s a great businesswoman whose family has been very blessed, and I am lucky to be able to enjoy their fruits. But ever since I joined the Navy I’ve been employed by pretty much just the government, as either a sailor or a public official, so I wouldn’t personally be able to afford any of them. None of the homes were paid for by me. I have had a few best-sellers, but I gave all that money to charity.’
It would have been better than what he said, I think.
Or maybe not.
What would have been your suggestion?