Radio host Rush Limbaugh; FOX News Channel hosts Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy; and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough all ran with the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign talking point that "John Kerry's first choice for a vice presidential running mate, [was] United States Senator John McCain" [R-AZ] despite the fact that, as Media Matters for America previously noted, the Associated Press reported in June that McCain's chief of staff, Mark Salter, had said, ''Senator McCain categorically states that he has not been offered the vice presidency by anyone."
In parroting the Republicans' spin on Kerry's selection of Senator John Edwards (D-NC) to be his running mate, the four also apparently overlooked McCain's assertion -- as The New Republic's White House correspondent, Ryan Lizza, noted -- that he turned down then-presidential candidate George W. Bush's offer to be his running mate in 2000: "I would not be vice president of the United States on either ticket. I told President Bush when he asked me in 2000."
Co-host Sean Hannity, from the July 6 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Despite all the glowing talk about John Edwards today, didn't John Kerry have to settle for second best?
Then the Bush campaign wasted no time this morning reminding everyone that Edwards was not Kerry's first choice.
DOOCY: We know that the instant that Mr. Kerry announced that Mr. Edwards was his selection, you guys were on the air with a brand new TV ad with John McCain. Is that to remind people that perhaps Mr. Kerry's first selection for vice president was a Republican, was John McCain, and waffled?
Host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL), from the July 6 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:
SCARBOROUGH: Now, the Bush campaign released this ad, reminding America that John McCain, who was actually John Kerry's first choice, but that McCain wound up endorsing President Bush.
Republicans on Capitol Hill do not like John McCain. But that may be right now, possibly, the most popular politician in America. What does it say about the Democratic Party that the Democratic nominee's first choice for president didn't even come from his party?
But John Kerry wanted John McCain on the Democratic ticket.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh, from the July 6 nationally syndicated broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: By the way, you know, we can call this the hooker ticket. Two johns on the road, wealthy johns on the road, looking for approval. I was playing with that today.
[I]f McCain called Kerry today and said, "Hey, John, you know what? I'm missing out on all this attention. I see the attention average is -- again, it's mine. I want it. I want to be your veep. I'll do it," Kerry would dump Edwards before they break bread tonight. There's no question about that, how bad he wants him.
Now, let's -- can we take a look at what Kerry has done here? He w -- he -- and there's -- make no mistake about this, he wanted McCain. It was serious. The desire was real. And he wanted this guy.