From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
RACINE, WI -- McCain was just asked at his town hall here about his controversial TV ad comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
"All I can say is that we are proud of that commercial," he answered. "We think Americans need to know that I believe that we should base this campaign on what we can do for Americans here at home and how we can make America safe and prosperous. And that is the theme of our campaign."
*** UPDATE *** NBC's Lauren Appelbaum provides the full exchange:
Woman asking question: "First of all, Sen. McCain, I want to commend you on your service for our country. But earlier this year in April, you made comments about the mudslinging and how it had been affecting the other campaigns and how you didn't want to do that. But recently, especially last week when Obama went to Europe, it seems like there were a lot of campaign ads that you put out that were doing that. And the one yesterday comparing him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, I was like, "OK." So it seems like to Americans like me and other people that you may have flip-flopped on what you said earlier. And what is your response to that?"
McCain: "First of all, let me say there are differences, and we are drawing those differences. And I said earlier, I admire his campaign. But what we are talking about here is substance and not style. And what we are talking about is who has an agenda for the future of America."
"Campaigns are tough," he added, "but I'm proud of the campaign that we have run. I'm proud of the issues that we have been trying to address with the American people. And again, I would hope that Sen. Obama would join me so we could discuss this as he said he wanted to quote duel over taxes, I believe yesterday. So, all I can say is that we are proud of that commercial. We think Americans need to know that I believe that we should base this campaign on what we can do for Americans here at home and how we can make America safe and prosperous. And that is the theme of our campaign."