Smokers' Group Attacks McCain in South Carolina Ads

Friday, February 4, 2000 The Washington Post, Page A04
By John Mintz / Washington Post Staff Writer

See related article George W. Bush Soft on Tobacco

With his presidential hopes on the rise, John McCain came under attack yesterday not only from the Bush campaign but also from allies of cigarette companies angry about his support for anti-tobacco legislation.

The National Smokers Alliance, a tobacco industry- supported group, began running ads in the state, where tobacco is a major cash crop, criticizing the Arizona senator for distorting his role in promoting unsuccessful legislation that would have raised the price of cigarettes.

At a news conference in Seabrook, S.C., McCain said he welcomed assaults by the tobacco industry and said they underscored his call for changes in the campaign finance system. "I'm honored by the attacks by the people who addicted our children and lied to Congress," he said. "I hope that they will spend more money because that authenticates this crusade of ours to get the influence of special interests out of politics."

McCain alienated cigarette executives in 1998 when he promoted a bill in the Senate that would have imposed a $1.10-a-pack hike in cigarette taxes; under his proposal, the increase would have had to be passed on to consumers.

The ad, sponsored by the nonprofit National Smokers Alliance, criticizes McCain for his repeated statements recently, in an attempt to appeal to tax-hating Republicans, that he has never voted for a tax increase. "Saying one thing and doing another, that's the real John McCain," said the ad.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, McCain's chief rival for the GOP nomination, has a mixed record on tobacco, sometimes at odds with the industry. But he also helped to protect companies from large damage claims and played no role in the state's lawsuit against the tobacco industry that reaped a $17 billion settlement for Texas.

The alliance is spending $25,000 on the ads, which will run about 1,000 times in three South Carolina cities.

Staff writer Edward Walsh, traveling with McCain, contributed to this report.


Statement by Philip Morris U.S.A.
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 3, 2000--Philip Morris U.S.A. learned today that the National Smokers Alliance is sponsoring ads in South Carolina attacking Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Philip Morris does not in any way support or condone these ads. In fact, in June 1999 the Company announced that it was withdrawing financial support to the National Smokers Alliance in reaction to an ethics complaint filed against Senator McCain.

source: Bill Godshall

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