(Updates at bottom: McCain says 'lighten up,' MoveOn launches ad campaign)
At a stop on Senator John McCain's "Straight Talk" tour, the 2008 presidential candidate decided to respond to a question with some bars of a song, but it is unlikely that Arizona's Republican senator will be reaching the final rounds of Fox's "American Idol."
Speaking at Murrells Inlet VFW Hall in South Carolina, McCain was asked when he thought the US Military might "send an air mail message to Tehran."
"'Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,' he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann," the paper notes.
McCain then added, "Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That alone should concern us but now they are trying for nuclear capabilities. I totally support the President when he says we will not allow Iran to destroy Israel."
The paper notes that McCain stopped short of answering the actual question and did not say if he supports an invasion of Iran."
Later, McCain campaign spokesman Kevin McLaughlin told ABC News that the senator "was just trying to add a little humor to the event."
ABC's report adds, "On a more serious note, however, McCain has long been an advocate of dealing with rogue states aggressively. Back in 2000 when then-Gov. George W. Bush was wary of nation building and talking about a foreign policy based on humility and restraint, McCain was advocating a policy of 'rogue-state rollback,' which he described in a 1999 speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies as a '21st century interpretation of the Reagan doctrine.'"
Video clip of McCain singing:
McCain says 'lighten up'
McCain defended his singing on Thursday, telling his critics to "lighten up," just as a liberal group announced that it would be launching an ad campaign about the incident.
"The liberal group MoveOn.org is launching an ad against Republican John McCain and his joke about bombing Iran, arguing that the nation 'can't afford another reckless president,'" the Associated Press reports. "The group plans to spend about $200,000 to air a commercial on network and some cable television stations in Iowa and New Hampshire, states that hold early contests in the presidential nomination process, spokesman Alex Howe said Friday."
On Fox News Channel Friday morning, one political commentator wondered if the MoveOn commercial might actually move some of the "far right" back into McCain's corner.
During a "Straight Talk Express" stop in Nevada, McCain claimed that his joke was meant to amuse his "old veterans friends."
"Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans friends," McCain said. "My response is, Lighten up and get a life."
The AP article continues, "Asked if his joke was insensitive, McCain said: 'Insensitive to what? The Iranians?'"
MoveOn's ad, as posted at YouTube follows. A note accompanying the ad states "MoveOn made an emergency TV ad to expose McCain's reckless remarks. Help get this ad on the air."
Transcript of ad:
America has lived through six years of a reckless foreign policy.
We're stuck in Iraq. More than 3,000 Americans are dead. And thousands more wounded.
Now comes John McCain with his answer to what we should do about Iran. John McCain? We can't afford another reckless president.
The following is a transcript of a fund-raising letter sent to MoveOn members:
Dear MoveOn member,
Have you seen the video?
At a campaign stop on Wednesday, Sen. John McCain was asked what to do about Iran. His response? He sang "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann."
He says it was a joke, but the bottom line is that it is reckless saber-rattling against Iran at a time when tensions are high. Will you help us counter his message on TV?
War with Iran would be a disaster. The best way to stop this idea in its tracks is to make sure politicians who talk loosely about war pay a political price. We've made an emergency TV ad to call out McCain on his reckless remarks. Click here to watch the ad, and then please donate $25 to get it up on the air:
If we can raise $200,000 today, we'll be able to run the ad starting next week. We want to put it on the air in early primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa. It'll send the message that Americans want a president who gets us out of the war we are in, not one who recklessly opens another front.
Even under normal circumstances, it's unusual for a presidential candidate to casually call for bombing another country. But this behavior is really out of line now when tensions with Iran are so high.
McCain's song gave us a glimpse of what we can look forward to if we don't draw the line now. That's why, overnight, we've put together a powerful ad that calls out Sen. McCain for his statement and reminds people that this kind of recklessness is what got us into the war with Iraq.
Can you help? Take a look at the ad (which includes the footage of McCain), and chip in $25 to put it on the air at: