- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2008

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A co-chairman of Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign yesterday compared former President Bill Clinton to Joseph McCarthy, the 1950s senator whom liberals widely revile as a witch-hunting fascist, after Mr. Clinton seemed to question Mr. Obama’s patriotism.

Retired Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff, said he was disappointed by comments Mr. Clinton made while campaigning for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday in Charlotte, N.C.

“I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country,” Mr. Clinton said, “instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.”

Gen. McPeak called Mr. Clinton’s statement horrible and compared it to the anti-communist Republican senator from Wisconsin.

“It sounds more like McCarthy,” Gen. McPeak said. “I was going to college when Joe McCarthy was accusing good Americans of being traitors, so I’ve had enough of it.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer rejected the comparison, saying Gen. McPeak was “clearly misinterpreting” the words and might be trying to divert attention from anti-American statements by Mr. Obama’s church mentor.

A posting on Mrs. Clinton’s Web site said the former president was talking about the need to keep the race focused on issues, “rather than falsely questioning any candidate’s patriotism.”

Gen. McPeak, who served under Mr. Clinton, was skeptical. “It’s a use of language as a disguised insult. We’ve seen this before, this little clever spin that’s put on stuff,” he said.

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