Democrats Target McCain's "Straight Talk" Image

John McCain likes to portray himself as a straight talker.

Democrats have other ideas.

The Democratic National Committee has unveiled a new Web site called "McCain Debates," in which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is shown debating...himself.

The DNC is looking to cast McCain as someone who, in the words of CBS News Chief Political Consultant Marc Ambinder, is "beholden to whichever partner he is bringing to the dance."

And it must be thrilled with its timing: Just as the DNC unveiled this site, the New York Times ran a story detailing how McCain, who presently casts himself as a Ronald Reagan-style conservative, may have considered (1) leaving the Republican Party in 2001 and (2) becoming Democrat John Kerry's running mate in 2004.

The McCain Debates site, which is here, plays snippets of comments from the candidate that seem to contradict each other. (For good measure, the site's creators also repeatedly throw in an image of President Bush giving a thumbs-up gesture.) The site is presently focused on Iraq, and the first two exchanges are below. It's important to note that the DNC provides little-to-no context:


"I believe that Saddam Hussein presents clear and present danger to the United States of America with his continued pursuit acquire weapons of mass destruction." – CNN Late Edition, 03/03/2002

"I never said that it was a, quote, clear and present danger because of weapons of mass destruction." – Hardball, 09/17/2003


"The success will be fairly easy." – CNN Larry King Live, 09/24/2002

"Again, I don't think it's, quote, easy." – CNN, 09/29/2002

UPDATE: Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant passes along a response: "The DNC's effort to distract from the divisive debate within their party will fail because neither Senator Clinton nor Barack Obama has demonstrated leadership in fighting the War on Terror. Senator McCain is focused on the future and beating the terrorists in Iraq, as opposed to surrendering to them."