Candidates' Surrogates Sling Mud

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the National Governors Association in May. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain had their surrogates working overtime on the Sunday talk shows, and both sides were on the attack.

Speaking on ABC's This Week, Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said, "I think Barack Obama's book The Audacity of Hope perhaps should be retitled 'The Audacity of Hypocrisy.' "

Meanwhile, over on CBS' Face the Nation, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democrat, said: "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."

Clark's comment was a salvo fired at one of McCain's key strengths, said Politico.com's John Harris, noting that attacks on John McCain's war record have not had traction in the past.

"That's a pretty ... audacious statement to seemingly challenge what is John McCain's most impressive personal and political asset, which is his war service." Harris said that although there are many liberal bloggers who question McCain's military record, he notes that mainstream political attacks have backfired. "This has not been fertile ground for McCain's critics, for pretty obvious reasons," he said.

At the same time, Harris said, McCain's campaign has been falling behind in the message war. "Obama has been getting vastly more media coverage and has been driving the narrative for several months." Using Pawlenty, whose very presence on a Sunday show fuels vice presidential rumors, could be a way for McCain to enliven the contest, he said. "If McCain can use this vice presidential selection contest to produce a little drama and attract some attention for his campaign, that wouldn't be such a bad thing for him."

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