It was a diversion the Republican campaign could have done without. On a day when John McCain unveiled major elements of a broad energy plan, his chief strategist's reported comments served to divert attention from the issue that is at the top of most Americans' minds.
The adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., told Fortune magazine a terrorist attack on U.S. soil “certainly would be a big advantage” to McCain.
He also said Benazir Bhutto's assassination in December was "unfortunate," but it helped McCain win the critical New Hampshire Republican primary. "His knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be commander-in-chief," Black told the magazine.
Black said Monday that he regretted the comments, but the damage had been done by what was seen as an attempt to play on Americans' fears.
McCain, who was campaigning in Califonia, said: ?I cannot imagine why he would say it. It?s not true. I?ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear."
The Democrats, of course, did not waste the opportunity. Barack Obama's spokesman said, "The fact that John McCain's top adviser says that a terrorist attack on American soil would be a 'big advantage' for their political campaign is a complete disgrace, and is exactly the kind of politics that needs to change."
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton announced the location of her first joint campaign event with Obama, set for Friday: a town called Unity in the swing state of New Hampshire. In the primary there, Clinton and Obama each won 107 votes.