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McCain Answers Clark's Criticisms

From CBS News' John Bentley:

(HARRISBURG, PA.) Responding to Gen. Wesley Clark's comment that "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," John McCain said that attacks from Barack Obama's campaign about his leadership are not new.

"Gen. Clark is not an isolated incident, but I have no way of knowing how much involvement Sen. Obama has in that issue," McCain said. "I know he has mischaracterized some of my statements in the past including our involvement in Iraq, but I'll let the American people decide about that."

Clark also said McCain is "untested and untried" in matters involving leadership and decision-making. "I think that that kind of thing is unnecessary," McCain said about Clark's comments. "I'm proud of my record of service and I have plenty of friends and leaders who will attest to that."

Several of his friends did just that in a conference call with reporters before McCain spoke. While McCain himself offered only a mild rebuke today, his surrogates called Clark's comments "snide," "inappropriate," and "wrong," and accused Obama of not doing enough to stop them. "I find Gen. Clark's comments to be unworthy, unseemly, for someone of his stature, and for a campaign that prides itself on the good judgment of its candidate, I think this reflects extremely bad judgment on the entire organization," said retired Admiral Leighton Smith.

McCain sought to turn the conversation back to domestic issues while taking a subtle shot at Obama. "The important thing is if that's the kind of campaign that Sen. Obama and his surrogates and his supporters want to engage in, I understand that, but it doesn't reduce the price of a gallon gas by one penny," McCain said. "It doesn't achieve our energy independence or make it come any closer."

Obama did not respond directly to questions about Gen. Clark's comments today, but his campaign issued a statement saying that "he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark."

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