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Obama Surrogate Targets Mrs. McCain

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has promised he would not make his GOP rival John McCain’s wife a political issue, but at least one of his television surrogates is trying to make her personal wealth a major campaign issue.

“I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue and if I saw people doing that---I would speak out against it,” Obama said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on June 18.

Now, less than a month later, an Obama loyalist deployed by the Democratic National Committee to various television shows for the purpose of promoting Obama’s candidacy says Mrs. McCain’s wealth presents a “red flag.”

Jamal Simmons, a communications consultant for the DNC, blasted Mr. McCain on CNN Tuesday evening because “he doesn’t talk about what’s going to happen to Cindy McCain if he goes into the White House” and “he’s not leading a transparent campaign.”

He complained about Mrs. McCain’s credit card bills, the houses her husband lives in with her and discounted price the McCain campaign has paid to travel on his wife’s corporate jet to campaign events.

“That month where he was spending $750,000 on credit card debts was from March 2007 until the beginning of 2000 -- middle of 2008,” Simmons claimed. “And that's when they were spending all this money on credit cards. They would not have been able to keep the John McCain campaign alive had he not had this personal wealth.”

[Full disclosure, I was on the segment with Simmons.]

Mrs. McCain is reportedly worth more than $100 million due to the beer distribution company she inherited from her parents, Hensley & Company. The McCain’s keep their finances separate and Mr. McCain has recused himself from Senate votes on alcohol issues.

Mrs. McCain’s money has come under recent scrutiny because of the windfall her company will get from the $52 billion sale of Anheuser-Bush to the Belgian brewing company InBev. It is unknown how much that sale will directly benefit Hensley & Company, but is speculated to be between $1 million and $2 million.

Some Democrats, like Simmons, say the McCain campaign is hiding information Mrs. McCain’s wealth. Ironically, the information about her credit card debt comes from Mr. McCain’s Senate financial disclosure forms, readily available on the internet through the Center for Responsive Politics.

McCain’s 2008 report, which includes tax information for the previous year, is 51 pages long. By comparison, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s 2006 report, which contained information about her former President husband’s international speaking fees and their joint finances, is 11 pages long. Her 2007 form is unavailable although it was due last May. She filed for an extension on May 12.

Obama’s 2007 Senate financial disclosure forms are 8 pages long.

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