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McCain Strategist Knocks Coverage Of Extreme Rhetoric At Rallies

In an interview with National Public Radio this morning, Steve Schmidt, John McCain's chief strategist, suggested that the media have been unfair in their coverage of the extreme rhetoric that has surfaced at some recent McCain-Palin rallies.

"Now, both campaigns have thousands of people in their crowds, and we had one person yell something inappropriate at ours, and of course we condemn it," Schmidt told Renee Montagne. "You see that happen at Obama rallies. The difference is, it seems that when it happens at a McCain rally it gets covered on television. When it happens at an Obama rally, it doesn't get covered."

Schmidt also reaffirmed McCain's vow that Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is (officially) off limits for the campaign. (Sarah Palin has discussed the relationship, saying, "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country...")

"Yeah, there are certainly millions of Americans who have deep concern about that relationship," Schmidt said. "But Senator McCain has been clear from the earliest days of the campaign when the story first entered the American consciousness that he would not use this issue in the campaign, and that remains his position."

He also identified the states that he considers most important to a McCain victory.

"When you look at the states, we need to win Florida, we need to win Ohio, and we feel great about our chances to do that," Schmidt said. "We feel good about our chances to win in North Carolina, our chances to win in Virginia. We look out across the Midwest at a number of blue states that we need to pick up and we feel that we're competitive in those states. We understand that, you know, the day of the beginning of the financial crisis, we were ahead in this race. With the financial crisis, we have fallen slightly behind in this race, and we have some ground to make up. The election isn't today, the election is in three weeks, and we feel good about our chances to come out on top."