Obama campaign manager David Plouffe defended General Merrill “Tony” McPeak in a conference call this morning for making controversial remarks comparing Bill Clinton to Joseph McCarthy, after the former president implied that John McCain and Hillary Clinton are “two people who love this country.”
Plouffe was asked if Barack Obama agreed with McPeak’s remarks, which McPeak interpreted as a deliberate exlcusion of Obama as a patriotic American. Obama would have used different words to express the sentiment, Plouffe argued, but “the point was a fair reading of that.”
Plouffe drew a connection between the former president’s remarks this weekend and Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that she and McCain have met the commander in chief test. “There is a pattern and a history here,” Plouffe said.
Plouffe again refused to walk back McPeak’s comments later in the call. “Questioning patriotism is something we don’t think has a place in this campaign,” he said, adding, “We think it was pretty clear what the intention was there and we don’t think it is right.”
Clinton’s communications director, Howard Wolfson, has called McPeak’s interpretation a “deliberately pathetic misreading of what the president said.”