The McCain campaign launched a full-throated response to Wesley Clark’s comments attacking McCain’s military service, with a conference call unveiling a “Truth Squad” featuring fellow POWs Orson Swindle and Bud Day, Sen. John Warner, advisor Bud McFarland, and Carl Smith, a retired Navy pilot who served in the Navy squadron that McCain commanded.
Sen. Warner said he was “utterly shocked” that Clark would attack McCain in such a disrespectful manner, and it was an “exercise in poor judgment” for Obama to allow Clark to make such an attack.
Day noted how McCain could have went home early from Vietnam because he was onboard the U.S.S. Forrestal during a tragic fire on deck (video here, McCain was one of the pilots who had to escape from his plane during the inferno). Instead, he volunteered to join another ship and fly combat missions over downtown Hanoi, which was the most heavily defended city in the world, and spent 65 additional months in Vietnam, as a POW, as a result. His experiences inside that camp, including the fact that he refused offers of early release, made him a leader, Day said.
Day attributed Clark’s “shocking insults” to “political shenanigans.”
Smith spoke of serving with McCain during the time when he turned a large, mediocre, and “clumsy” Navy squadron into a unit that earned a citation for meritorious service.
“The credit goes to John McCain and his extraordinary leadership, it’s as simple as this,” Smith said. He said that when McCain came there, he fired all of the people who said that there was no way they could do better, and demanded more.
“The results were truly exceptional,” he said.