The Page had these first -- talking points from the Obama campaign to surrogates about reports suggesting that veepstakes vetter James Johnson benefited from his friendship with Countrywide's CEO.

This story is overblown and irrelevant.

This an overblown story about what appear to be completely above-board transactions. The Wall Street Journal even admits that they don’t have a story-noting that it’s “impossible” to know the factors that went into these arrangements.

And look, one of John McCain’s top advisors, John Green, lobbied for Ameriquest, one of the nation’s largest subprime lenders and a key player in the mortgage crisis. What does it say about Senator McCain’s campaign that they’ve selected someone who’s lobbied for a subprime
lender to serve as their full-time liaison to Republicans in Congress?

Americans know that we face a critical choice in this race-and isn’t about the terms of an outside advisor’s loans. This race is about leadership, and which candidate will crack down on fraudulent lenders and bring real relief to Americans struggling in the grip of the housing crisis.

Barack Obama has offered a real solution to the housing crisis-John McCain hasn’t.

Barack Obama understands what homeowners are going through, and he’s put forward a detailed proposal to crack down on fraudulent lenders and help folks stay in their homes. As President, he’ll penalize predatory lenders and create a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund
to help families stay in their homes. And among other steps, he’ll give a tax credit to middle class homeowners that would cover 10 percent of the interest on their mortgages every year.

Meanwhile, John McCain has struggled for months to come up with a real
plan to address the housing crisis. It took him three tries to come up
with answers for struggling homeowners, and he still came up short.
And when he laid out his economic agenda recently he couldn’t be
bothered to talk about the housing crisis.



Tommy Vietor, an Obama spokesman, offers an official response:

“It’s the height of hypocrisy for the McCain campaign to try and make this an issue when John Green, one of John McCain’s top advisors, lobbied for Ameriquest, which was one of the nation’s largest subprime lenders and a key player in the mortgage crisis. As President, Senator Obama will crack down on fraudulent lenders and bring real relief to Americans struggling in the grip of the housing crisis—the kind of change that works for the American people.”



Alex Conant, an RNC spokesman, volleys back:

Faced with serious questions about an emerging scandal within his campaign, Barack Obama is hiding behind political talking points. This is not leadership. His campaign’s suggestion that controversy surrounding his senior adviser’s favorable loans is ‘overblown’ is out-of-touch, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from a candidate who lives in a multi-million dollar house thanks to Tony Rezko. Labeling voters concerns as ‘overblown’ is exactly the sort of weak leadership that raises questions about Obama’s readiness to be Commander in Chief.”



I don't really think this amounts to a scandal, but it's certainly a distraction... it's hard to see how the Obama campaign wouldn't have expected questions about Johnson's past activities in the home mortgage industry, so I take it they are not terribly worried about the WSJ's reports. We'll see.

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