Tony McPeak, a retired Air Force general and current co-chair of Obama's presidential campaign, compared former President Bill Clinton to Joseph McCarthy Friday in response to comments Clinton made earlier in the day that appeared to question Obama's patriotism.
"It sounds more like McCarthy," McPeak said. "I grew up, I was going to college when Joe McCarthy was accusing good Americans of being traitors, so I've had enough of it."
Read more about McPeak's response from the AP
Adding a bit of fuel to the political fire, Bill Clinton made a bizarre comment on Friday, leaving the impression that he believed Barack Obama's patriotism would be a general election issue.
MSNBC is reporting that on the campaign trail today in Charlotte, North Carolina, the former president said a general election matchup between his wife, Sen. Clinton, and Sen. John McCain would be between "two people who love this country" without "all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."
It's difficult to determine exactly what Clinton meant by this. Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said the former president was not implying that Obama didn't love America. As for "this other stuff," that Clinton referred to? He was talking about "the politics of personal destruction," said Wolfson. "He was lamenting that these kind of distractions 'always seems to intrude' on our politics."
Not everyone had the same interpretation. MSNBC, for example, was quick to suggest that the former president was implying there were doubts about Obama's patriotism, and that those doubts would play a role in the general election. Which seems, on its face, hardly a stretch.
However, President Clinton also seems to be suggesting that his wife would be immune to swift-boat like attacks; a supposition that does not seem terribly likely.
Recently on the campaign, the former president has made remarks that have been a bit unpredictable. Days ago, he complimented McCain as bipartisan, a war hero, and a tough general election foe. No "but"s included. Days before that, he was touting a Sen. Hillary Clinton-Obama pairing as an electoral "dream ticket," even though his wife's own campaign was making the case that Obama was not ready to serve as commander-in-chief.
Here is the full quote: "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election between two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interests of the country and people could actually ask themselves who is right on the issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."