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Wheels come off Straight Talk Express?

From NBC's Mark Murray
For a candidate who prides himself in "straight talk" -- and whose political image in part is based on that truth-telling reputation -- Saturday proved to be a brutal day for John McCain and his campaign.

First came a front-page New York Times piece noting that McCain "has drawn an avalanche of criticism this week from Democrats, independent groups and even some Republicans for regularly stretching the truth." There was also an accompanying fact-check of McCain's latest TV ad, which called it the "latest in a number that resort to a dubious disregard for the facts." 

The Washington Post gave "four Pinnochios" to McCain's recent assertion on "The View" that Palin never took earmarks as Alaska governor. Then the Boston Globe reported that Palin didn't really travel inside Iraq as has been claimed. And Bloomberg News said that the McCain camp may not have been exactly truthful in estimating the size of its recent crowds. "Now officials say they can't substantiate the figures McCain's aides are claiming."

To top it off, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said this to the Politico about the increased media scrutiny of the campaign's factual claims: "We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it."

Not surprisingly, the Obama camp has pounced on all this, issuing a memo to reporters entitled "Unraveling the myth of the Straight Talk Express." The memo argues, "Since naming Governor Palin as their vice presidential nominee, the McCain campaign has distorted, distracted, and outright lied to the American people about her record in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that a McCain/Palin Administration would be nothing more than a continuation of the failed Bush policies of the last eight years."

And it concludes, "While the media is slowly starting to call the McCain campaign on their dishonest tactics, McCain's staff boasts that they don't care. As a McCain spokesman told the Politico, 'We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it.'"

See below for the entire memo...

To: Press Corps
From: Obama Campaign
Re: Unraveling the myth of the Straight Talk Express

Since naming Governor Palin as their Vice Presidential nominee, the McCain campaign has distorted, distracted, and outright lied to the American people about her record in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that a McCain/Palin Administration would be nothing more than a continuation of the failed Bush policies of the last eight years.

Indeed, today alone we learned that the McCain campaign's claim that Governor Palin traveled to Iraq is a lie. In fact, she didn't cross the Kuwait border. We learned that the McCain campaign is desperate enough to tell the press phony crowd numbers, which they falsely attributed to local elected officials and the United States Secret Service.  And we learned that despite Senator McCain's claim that Governor Palin is a fiscal conservative, spending actually increased during her brief tenure as Governor.

Here are the facts. Governor Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere, requested hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks, never visited Iraq, increased spending as governor, increased taxes as governor, and was about as successful selling that luxury jet on eBay as the McCain campaign has been selling her reputation as a reformer. Oh yeah, and the gas pipeline she touts won't be usable for at least a decade, if it's completed at all.

While the media is slowly starting to call the McCain campaign on their dishonest tactics, McCain's staff boasts that they don't care. As a McCain spokesman told the Politico, "We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it."