John McCain, who was slimed before losing the South Carolina primary in 2000, is sitting back this time around.
An Internet ad his campaign launched today uses rival Mike Huckabee's own words to rebut charges in automated telephone calls that McCain supports medical tests on fetuses and amnesty for illegal immigrants.
"Senator McCain, no matter what anyone may say, is a genuine conservative," Huckabee says in the web-only ad, which splices together comments from interviews and debates. "John McCain is a hero in this country. He's a hero to me. If you look at his record, he's got a solid record on things that really matter. He's pro-life, he's strong for our country's defense and security."
Then, it says on the screen, "If you want the truth about John McCain, just ask Mike Huckabee."
Thursday, McCain used another web ad to respond to mailers suggesting he put his well-being above that of his fellow POWs in Vietnam. That ad featured testimonials from some of those held captive in the Hanoi Hilton with McCain.
Eight years ago, McCain was also coming off a win in the New Hampshire primary. But in the final days before the South Carolina, he was derailed in part by false rumors that he had fathered an illegitimate black child. This campaign, McCain created a fast-response truth squad in South Carolina, and tried to pre-empt a reprise of those rumors by send out a mailer about his record against abortion and for adoption that featured his wife holding the daughter they adopted from "Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangledesh."