FLASHBACK: McCain Campaign Thought Terrorist Attack Would Be A "Big Advantage"

June 15, 2009 12:01 pm ET

On June 15, 2009, Sen. John McCain criticized CIA Director Leon Panetta for saying of former Vice President Cheney, "it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point." Yet in years past, both John McCain and his chief campaign adviser admitted that an increased fear of terrorism would help Republican candidates, presumably by "making their point."

Feigned Outrage: Sen. McCain Scolds Leon Panetta

McCain Demanded Leon Panetta Retract Remarks That Implied Cheney Hoped For An Attack To "Make His Point."  As reported by The Hill, "CIA Director Leon Panetta should immediately retract comments he made to the New Yorker magazine suggesting former Vice President Cheney is wishing for another terrorist attack on the U.S., Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) demanded Monday... 'Never did it cross my mind that Dick Cheney would ever want an attack on the United States of America,' the former Republican presidential candidate said during an appearance on Fox News. 'It's unfair, and I think that Mr. Panetta should retract, and retract immediately.'" [The Hill, 6/15/09]

Yet Sen. McCain & Co. Believe Terrorism Helps The GOP

McCain's Chief Adviser Said A Terrorist Attack Would Be A "Big Advantage" For McCain. As reported by Fortune: "We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an 'unfortunate event,' says Black. 'But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.' As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. 'Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,' says Black." [Fortune, 6/28/08]

2004: McCain Believed  Bin Laden Tape Helped Bush

McCain On Bin Laden Tape: "I Think It's Very Helpful To President Bush." According to the Associated Press: "Sen. John McCain, campaigning in southwestern Connecticut on Saturday, said Osama bin Laden's video message to Americans will likely energize President Bush's re-election campaign. 'I think it's very helpful to President Bush...  It focuses America's attention on the war on terrorism. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but I think it does have an effect.'" [Associated Press, 10/30/04]

**UPDATE: Greg Sargent points out that Sen. McCain also said: "Bin Laden may have just given us a little boost. Amazing, huh?"