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In TV Ads, Third-Party Liberal Groups Attack McCain’s Health, Temperament

By Jake Tapper at ABC’s Political Punch

Two third-party liberal groups have teamed up to run this TV ad  seeming to imply that  Sen. John McCain , R-Ariz., will die in office.

Showing pictures of McCain’s cancer scar, the script is as follows:

Text on screen: John McCain is 72 years old and had cancer 4 times .

Dr. Michael Frakin: The relevance of knowing the details of his course with melanoma are very important.   Another bout of cancer for John McCain while he is president of the United States would profoundly impact his capacity to lead.

Noah Craft, Ph.D.: Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers and the chances of survival, if you have melanoma spread through your body, are very, very slim.

Text on screen: Why won’t John McCain release his Medical Records?

Announcer: Brave New PAC and Democracy For America are responsible for the content of this advertising.

Another Brave New PAC TV ad features former POW Phillip Butler saying of McCain, “he would blow up and go off like a Roman candle. John McCain is not somebody that I would like to see with his finger near the red button,”

These ads are more what is called “flares” — with little-to-no presence on TV, but a big internet presence that the groups are trying to use to get free media attention.

Republicans are insinuating that the Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign has something to do with them. Obama told Democratic contributors to refrain from contributing to these independent groups, but The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reported this month that “after a year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama’s Democratic Party, Obama’s strategists have changed their approach. An Obama adviser privy to the campaign’s internal thinking on the matter says that, with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies — what another campaign aide termed ‘the cavalry’ — will come to Obama’s aid.”

The Obama campaign says this is not true.

The Republican National Committee’s Danny Diaz points to the fact that Democracy for America is run by Jim Dean, the brother of Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, to insinuate that Obama and the DNC are behind these ads. He also says that Larry Lessig, an adviser to Obama on technology issues, is chairman of the board of Brave New Foundation — which is separate from Brave New PAC, though both were founded by film director Robert Greenwald.

“The fact that Howard Dean’s brother and an adviser to the Obama campaign are behind despicable and cheap smear ads against Senator McCain is deeply disappointing, but in no way surprising,” says Diaz. “Barack Obama has promised Americans an elevated debate offering nothing but gutter, Chicago-style politics.”

The Obama campaign insists it has nothing to do with the ads at all, and argues these connections are pretty tenuous.