Is that going to be McCain’s response when world leaders call the White House? We don’t need another empty headed president who can’t even remember the simplest things like how many houses he owns. Good grief.
TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Dems Open Major Populist Offensive Over McCain’s Houses Gaffe
The Democrats are going after John McCain over some choice quotes he gave in a Politico interview on the subject of wealth — lines that could seriously undermine his attempts to cast Barack Obama as the man living a “grand” lifestyle.
The DNC is already blasting out to reporters two key comments. First, McCain was asked how many houses he owns. “I think — I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain said. “It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.”
Then there’s McCain’s ideas on the subject of what it means to be rich — following up on his $5 million threshold from the Rick Warren interview and the arguments over what constitutes taxation of the wealthy.
“I define rich in other ways besides income,” he said. “Some people are wealthy and rich in their lives and their children and their ability to educate them. Others are poor if they’re billionaires.”
From the DNC’s release: “John McCain’s Message to Working Families: Money — Don’t Worry About It — You’re Rich in Other Ways.”
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a top Obama surrogate and potential Veep, is already blasting away at McCain: “He couldn’t count high enough apparently to even know how many houses he owns.”
Surely these McCain quotes will get every bit as much attention as John Edwards’ $400 haircut, right?
UPDATE: McCain has SO many houses, he can’t live in them all! Yeah, right investment houses. Sure, LOTS of us middle class Americans have THOSE!!!
Yeah, Obama lives in a mansion, sure. And McCain has SEVEN of them — and a PLANE!
Oh wait, they’re his wive’s huh?
Guess Obama should’ve married richer, then he wouldn’t be “elitist”, right?
And I think we ALL know what that is code for, especially in the South.
But, but — McCain was a POW! That makes up for EVERYTHING! — shafting his first wife, marrying a rich woman who launched his political career with her friend’s money, all of it. Doesn’t it?
Geez, I can just see Putin calling and the staff “getting back” to him with, “McCain was a POW! Leave McCain ALONE!”
McCain Spokesman’s Retort: Obama Lives in “a Frickin’ Mansion”
By Michael D. Shear
SEDONA, Ariz. — A spokesman for Sen. John McCain vowed to retaliate against today’s story about how many houses the GOP candidate owns with a renewed focus on Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to a Chicago developer and charges that Obama is an elitist.
“We’re delighted to have a real estate debate with Barack Obama,” said spokesman Brian Rogers, adding that the press should focus on Obama’s house. “It’s a frickin’ mansion. He doesn’t tell people that. You have a mansion you bought in a shady deal with a convicted felon.”
The felon reference was to Tony Rezko, a former Obama friend and financial backer who was convicted on fraud and bribery charges this year. Rogers vowed to intensify efforts to link Obama to Rezko in the coming days.
“That’s fair game now,” he said. “You are going to see more of that now that this issue has been joined. You’ll see more of the Rezko matter from us.”
The McCain campaign was in full damage-control mode as the housing story took off today. Rogers tried to play down the story, saying that reports of the many McCain houses were overstated.
“The reality is they have some investment properties and stuff. It’s not as if he lives in ten houses. That’s just not the case,” Rogers said. “The reality is they have four that actually could be considered houses they could use.”
Those four include an apartment in Arlington, a ranch in Sedona, and two condos, in California and Phoenix, he said. The others include “some investment properties and things like that.”
He also added: “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison,” referring to the prisoner of war camp that McCain was in during the Vietnam War.
Rogers called the house story “by far the most personal attack” of the campaign, and said “it comes from a candidate who said he was against this kind of thing.”
He predicted that the story would not “stick” with the American people.
“In terms of who’s an elitist, I think people have made a judgment that John McCain is not an arugula-eating, pointy headed professor-type based on his life story.”
Oh, really? You really want to bring on this argument that John Sidney McCain III is not an elitist? Well, wait, there’s more:
In terms of net worth, John McCain is the 8th richest member of Congress, while Barack Obama is the 67th richest.
Hawaii, contrary to the shrieking of the panic-stricken McCain flack this morning, does not have any private beaches – by law.
State law requires all beaches remain accessible to the public, and counties must make sure the public can reach the beach in areas where private property dominates.
But the Iroquois Point Island Club, which rents homes to the public, can refuse access to its beach because it is on land belonging to the Navy. Military property is exempt from the state and county beach access rules.
According to Huffington Post, McCain owns 10 homes, with a combined worth of nearly $14 million.
John and Cindy McCain own a plethora of houses spread throughout the United States, including: two beachfront condos in Coronado, California, condo in La Jolla, California, a two-unit condominium complex in Phoenix, Arizona, three ranch houses located outside of Sedona, Arizona, a high-rise condo in Arlington, Virginia, a rental loft, and, according to GQ, a loft they bought for their daughter, Meghan.
That’s it for today’s Fun Facts. Now, all you poor people worth less that $5 million, get your asses back to work!
Oh, and speaking of “the staff”:
A McCain campaign aide who did not want to be identified discussing the McCain’s personal finances, told Politico this summer that — other than the primary Phoenix residence — the new condos were “purchased for investment and are available for personal use by the McCain family.”
The McCains increased their budget for household employees from $184,000 in 2006 to $273,000 in 2007, according to John McCain’s tax returns.
The additional cash supports an “increase in the number of employees,” the McCain aide told Politico. The aide did not answer a question about whether the growing staff stemmed from addition of new properties to the family’s real estate portfolio.
I guess paying your staff of household maintenance people MORE THAN 97% of Americans make is not “elitist” at all!
Income Distribution Fun Facts
Mark Kleiman says “If you had made last year as much money as John McCain spent on household help alone $273,000 — you’d be richer than 95% of American families.”
As I’ve said before, I’m not sure percentiles are the best way of expressing this kind of information. Rather, I think the main fact is that the median household income in the United States is $48,201 per year, meaning that McCain spent over five times as much on servants as the typical household earns in an entire year. On the other hand, McCain’s relatively lavish household staff expenditures probably explains why he sees tax cuts for high-income individuals as a sound job-creation strategy — perhaps he wouldn’t be able to afford nearly as many if he had to groan under the oppressive yoke of Clinton-era top income tax rates.
Oh, but it gets better. They’re not his houses; they’re CINDY’S! Yeah, and she bought and paid for your Senate career too, John, with her friends’ money. I guess CINDY should be the Senator, huh?
Though McCain is widely perceived to to drawn first blood by attacking Obama’s character, the official said that the difference between Obama’s mocking McCain for his wealth and his shaky answer on the number of homes he owns was that McCain’s charge “reflects an existential reality,” where Obama’s charges “attack Cindy. She owns the homes. I thought he said the wives were off-limits.”
Oh, and John? You really want to bring up shady housing deals? Really?! Cause I’m still a bit pissed about the whole 80s S&L thing, and that you got off scott free…
The McCain campaign thinks that it has an opportunity to turn their candidate’s stupendous gaffe — failing to recall how many houses his family owns — into a positive by running an advertisement linking Barack Obama to Tony Rezko. Obama, claims the McCain campaign, got help buying his house from Rezko, a Chicagoan who has since gone to jail but received some $14 million in taxpayer money.
The problem with this attack? Aside from being thoroughly misleading — Obama has not been seriously alleged to have done anything unethical in his interactions with Rezko — this ad is a serious strategic blunder by the McCain campaign. Why? It blows wide open the door to talk about McCain’s all-too-close relationship with Charles Keating and well reported on though somewhat forgotten charter membership in the so-called “Keating Five.”
The Keating Five is an old story, so many reporters have shied away from saying much about it because it isn’t new — there aren’t a whole lot of new developments in the story. But with McCain talking about allegedly shady relationships, the opportunity is there to go back over McCain’s ties to Keating — whose nefarious activities, which were at least in part aided by his relationship with McCain, ended up costing the American taxpayer $3.4 billion (a whole lot more than the $14 million Rezko was alleged to have received).
Just how close was McCain to Keating? Take a look at this rundown I posted back in January:
Though McCain might try to downplay his involvement, his campaigns received $124,000 from Keating and his associates during the 1980s (AP, 3/2/91), and McCain was described as being personally closer to Keating than any of the other members of the Keating Five (Roll Call, 1/20/92). What’s more, McCain accepted more than $15,000 in free trips from Keating, including vacations to Keating’s resort in the Bahamas — trips that McCain failed to disclose at the time (New York Times, 2/28/91; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/3/90).
In the end, the crash of Keating’s savings and loan — which had been shielded by some of his best friends in the United States Senate — cost billions to the American taxpayer, as mentioned above, and all told the federal government ended up on the hook for close to $125 billion in the fallout of the crisis that befell the underregulated industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Does McCain really want to have to talk about all of this? About the Bahaman vacations he took paid for by Keating? Probably not. But he may soon have to as a result of the shortsightedness of his campaign advisors. Nice move team McCain!
Oh, fine fine, one is up for sale, indeed:
Former home of Sen John & Cindy McCain. Situated on over 2.5 acres. Totally remodeled in Old World style complete w/7 bedrooms in main house & 6 bedrooms in guest houses. Hardwood & travertine floors throughout. Master suite has huge walk-in w/private cantera stone patio w/spa and fplc. Gourmet kitchen has travertine floors, granite counters, comercial SS apliances w/large catering room/butlers pantry off kitchen. 2 guest houses. His/her dressing cabana. Finest entertaining backyard in the Valley – 3 ramadas (2 w/full bar set-up), BBQ, play house, cantera stone decking, pavillion, spa and large lap/play pool. 7 car detached garage…
Then again, maybe McCain just can’t understand that some people have to work to get where they are. That must be an elitist thing to do, I suppose. The common folk just inherit their wealth or marry it, after all.
McCain, who has portrayed Obama as an elitist, is the son and grandson of admirals. The Associated Press estimates his wife, a beer heiress, is worth $100 million. Obama was raised by a single mother who relied at times on food stamps, and went to top schools on scholarships and loans. His income has increased from book sales since he spoke at the 2004 Democratic convention.