- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sen. John McCain’s campaign on Friday announced its first negative campaign ad of the general election that accuses Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama of failing to do his duty as chairman of a subcommittee charged with oversight over NATO, which leads war operations in Afghanistan.

“Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan,” the ad’s announcer says, adding that Mr. Obama is now changing positions on the success of the military surge in Iraq “to help himself become president.”

Mr. Obama’s campaign called the ad “patently misleading” and said it tarred Mr. McCain’s calls for a campaign based on issues.

“Given his calls for a civil campaign, it’s disappointing that Senator McCain has slipped so easily into the same, tired campaign tactics that have become so familiar to the American people,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

The McCain campaign said the 30-second ad will run on national cable TV stations and in key battleground states.

The ad charges that in order to win the Democratic nomination Mr. Obama voted against funding the troops and didn’t go to Iraq for two years.

Mr. Obama is poised to travel to Iraq and other Middle East and European countries next week.

He has taken fire this week for failing to convene any hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s European affairs subcommittee, which has oversight over NATO.

Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican and the ranking member of the subcommittee, wrote asking Mr. Obama to hold hearings and poking fun at him for going so long without any action.

But Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the full committee, said Afghanistan issues were handled at the full committee level and Mr. Obama should not be blamed.

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