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Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 09.12.08

Asks McCain Campaign to Pull Down Misleading Attack Ad

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The Planned Parenthood Action Fund calls on the McCain-Palin campaign to immediately pull down their dishonest ad attacking Senator Barack Obama for supporting a bill intended to help protect children from sexual predators. The ad is doubly misleading because it misrepresents the substance of the bill. In 2003, Planned Parenthood worked with Illinois state legislators to introduce the bill highlighted in Senator McCain’s negative ad.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund also released it’s own ad in response to the McCain campaign’s false and dishonest attack ad against Sen. Obama. The ad, called “Another Politician,” sets the record straight on Obama’s support for a bill intended to help children recognize inappropriate touching and highlights John McCain’s propensity to play loose with the facts.

“John McCain’s latest ad is yet another example that he will say anything to get elected,” said Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards. “In ad after ad, he’s made false statements and twisted the facts. In this case, he is dishonestly attacking Senator Obama and distorting a bill that Planned Parenthood helped introduce in the Illinois State Legislature and which was intended to protect children.

In January 2008, Mitt Romney echoed a similar sentiment, telling FOX News, “I think Senator McCain is willing to say anything to try and get elected. He's been looking for this job for a long, long time.”

Illinois State SB 99, the bill that the McCain campaign highlights in their negative ad, states “Course material and instruction shall teach pupils to not make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances and how to say no to unwanted sexual advances and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance.”

Planned Parenthood along with other health care advocacy and education groups, including the Illinois Parent Teacher Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, and the Illinois Public Health Association, supported the bill that would have taught kindergartners how to recognize inappropriate touching and how to defend against sexual predators.

Yesterday, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund sent a letter to McCain-Palin campaign manager Steve Schmidt, asking that the dishonest ad immediately be taken off the air.

“We are asking the McCain campaign to take down their attack ad because it is patently false and dishonest. The American public deserve better,” said Richards. “Until the McCain campaign pulls its ad, Planned Parenthood will run its ad to set the record straight.”

CQ reports that the McCain campaign “did not respond to questions about the ad, including whether McCain thinks it is bad for young children to learn in school about how to avoid predators.” [http://news.yahoo.com/s/cq/politics2947430]

Planned Parenthood’s ad will air in the markets where the McCain campaign’s dishonest ad is airing, currently in the Pittsburgh and Denver markets.

Several analyses and fact checks of the McCain campaign’s attack ad have criticized the ad, finding that it is a “factual failure” and “seriously distort(s) the record.”

The New York Times: McCain’s ad “distorts” Obama’s record:The New York Times reports that McCain’s ad “severely distorts” Obama’s record and is “recycling old and discredited arguments.” TheTimes goes on to report that “The advertisement, then, also misrepresents what the bill meant by “comprehensive.” The instruction the bill required was comprehensive in that it called for a curriculum that went from kindergarten and through high school, not in the sense that kindergarteners would have been fully exposed to the entire gamut of sex-related issues.” [The New York Times, 9/11/08]

The Washington Post: The McCain ad “fails test”: The Washington Post examined the “education” ad created by McCain and said that political ads “should not misrepresent the record of the other side and should clearly distinguish quotes from non-partisan news sources from standard political rhetoric. The McCain ‘education’ ad fails this test.” [The Washington Post, 9/11/08]

Factcheck.org: McCain ad is a “Factual Failure”: Factcheck.org writes, “A McCain-Palin campaign ad claims Obama's ‘one accomplishment’ in the area of education was ‘legislation to teach “comprehensive sex education” to kindergarteners.’ But the claim is simply false, and it dates back to Alan Keyes' failed race against Obama for an open Senate seat in 2004. Obama, contrary to the ad's insinuation, does not support explicit sex education for kindergarteners. And the bill, which would have allowed only ‘age appropriate’ material and a no-questions-asked opt-out policy for parents, was not his accomplishment to claim in any case, since he was not even a cosponsor – and the bill never left the state Senate.” [Factcheck.org; 9/10/08]

Congressional Quartely: McCain makes “dubious” claims about Obama’s character. CQ writes, “McCain appears to be banking on the assumption that he has enough credibility with voters that he can maintain their faith in his character even if he makes dubious claims about Obama's…. [T]he underlying suggestion of ‘Education’ -- that Obama favors teaching 5-year-olds the kind of sex ed taught to high school students -- is a significant stretch.” [CQ, 9/11/08]


"Another Politician" Ad backup

Planned Parenthood Action Fund letter to McCain-Palin campaign

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.