(1) He decides to attack Rudy Giuliani in a fairly personal way considering that McCain happens to be Giuliani's close friend and the two have largely eschewed personal attacks.

(1.5) -- The Giuliani campaign brings up McCain's participation in the Keating 5 scandal by way of rebuttal.

(2) McCain's campaign manager sends out a very aggressive statement reinforcing McCain's point about Bernie Kerik, loyalty and judgment.

“Rudy Giuliani’s history with Bernie Kerik is a story of poor judgment. After being briefed on Kerik’s ties to organized crime, Giuliani named him chief of the New York Police Department. Without any further vetting, Giuliani asked him to join his security consulting firm. Despite obvious ethical problems, Giuliani went so far as to personally recommend Kerik for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security. A president’s judgment matters and Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly placed personal loyalty over regard for the facts.”



(3) The AP drops a story confirming this column's reporting about a $3M loan McCain is finalizing to help his campaign... and adds a doozy of twist: an outside group led by former McCain media consultant Rick Reed is running ads on McCain's behalf in South Carolina.

(4) The Giuliani campaign, suitably pissed off, issues a statement from Katie Levinson:

“Is this what desperation looks like? Bernie Kerik’s issues have been known since 2004 and John McCain still had glowing things to say about Rudy Giuliani and his leadership. What, exactly, changed today? Best as I can tell, it’s just John McCain’s pure desperation in the face of a failing and flailing campaign trumping his so-called straight talk. It is truly a shame that John McCain has chosen to stoop this low.”



And another:

Let me get this straight – first, campaign finance crusader John McCain oversees a campaign that spiraled completely out of control and went bankrupt and now he wants a questionable $3 million loan? Doesn’t quite pass the smell test, does it? Americans need someone in the White House who knows how to balance their own checkbook before they try to balance the federal government’s. They don’t need John McCain, they need Rudy Giuliani - who has actually balanced a budget and made a payroll.”



(5) McCain's mother does some Mormon-bashing in New Hampshire.

''As far as the Salt Lake City thing, he's a Mormon and the Mormons of Salt Lake City had caused that scandal. And to clean that up, again, it's not a subject,'' Roberta McCain said.
JohnMcCain quickly stepped in: ''The views of my mothers are not necessarily the views of mine.' ''Well, that's my view and you asked me,'' Roberta answered.



(6) McCain issues a statement denouncing third party ads.

"I have always fought for full disclosure of all money spent in federal elections and I have opposed the expenditure of soft money by independent groups trying to influence federal elections. This remains my position and I condemn such spending in this election. To me, the question is not if it's legal but if it's really the best way to conduct a campaign. If anyone considering an outside expenditure thinks they are benefiting me I would prefer they do not air the ads. If there are ads up I believe they should come down."



(7) Jennifer Rubin reminds us that politics ain't beanbag...

but it ain't supposed to be fragmentation bombing either.

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