So says the man who didn’t exactly run a clean campaign himself in 2008. McCain doesn’t really offer anything up bolster that claim, and if one compares this campaign to previous ones, I think you’d have to say McCain is exaggerating at the least, although more likely he’s just full of shit.
McCain calls this the nastiest campaign ever because he needs to try to tap into some feeling against negative campaigning (a misplaced feeling in my opinion, but that’s another topic for another time), since he needs to drum up antipathy towards super PACs by claiming they’re the cause of the nastiness by running negative ads and driving up the candidates negatives.
However, the candidates unfavourables have remained fairly consistent throughout this race according to Gallup’s tracking of the race, and indeed, Santorum’s positive intensity score has increased. But there are other polls looking at favourable and unfavourable numbers, such as the NBC/Wall Street poll [pdf]. Asked to describe their feelings about Romney, the number describing their feelings as “very negative” has been climbing since June 2011 (suggesting something other than super PAC money at work here). Among Republican primary voters, his numbers have been more consistent.
Sen. McCain may be disposed to oppose super PACs, but there is a better way to make this argument than pretending 2012 is a nasty campaign year and laying the blame at negative ads produced by super PACs. Furthermore, a negative ad is not necessarily a “nasty” ad.