Senator McCain, if you’d still like to keep up the fiction that yours is a respectful campaign and that you believe Senator Obama is a decent family man and citizen, you’d better stop TIME’s Karen Tumulty from writing down what Virginia state GOP chairman Jeffrey M Frederick says as he briefs your volunteer canvassers — and what the volunteers say to each other:

With so much at stake, and time running short, Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: "Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon," he said. "That is scary."

It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. "And he won’t salute the flag," one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, "We don’t even know where Senator Obama was really born." Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.

Mr Frederick caught on to the respectful atmosphere among his storm-troopers, though. He realized that TIME’s readers might learn too much from further exposure:

The Republicans wouldn’t allow me to tag along with their volunteers….

I’m sure these patriots spent the afternoon chatting with their neighbors about the drawbacks to Senator Obama’s health plan, or the advantages of privatizing Social Security.

John McCain and the GOP: this year, they are all about the issues.


UPDATE: Via Glenn Greenwald, some fascinating background on Jeffrey Frederick from Virginia blogger Lowell Feld at RaisingKaine.com as well as this canny note:

Remember, this wasn’t some offhand remark by Frederick; he said it knowing that a reporter from TIME MAGAZINE was in the room taking notes for a story! Imagine what he says when the media isn’t present?!?

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge