Talking Points Memo posted a story this afternoon, with video, of U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg campaigning in a bar and holding up a cartoon of President Obama depicted as Moammar Gaddafi. That sounds pretty bad, and TPM calls it "the latest example of a tracker catching a candidate doing something he or she would probably rather not be splashed around the internet." Montana Democrats are certainly pouncing: The Indy received a blast email about the story earlier today. Rehberg is challenging Jon Tester in a closely watched race for U.S. Senate.
Rehberg's camp counters that the video is just the candidate being nice. Someone handed Rehberg the cartoon, he held it up for someone else to see, and that's it. The video doesn't show any more or less than that. Spokesman Brian Barrett offered the following comment to TPM:
Denny had three Democrat trackers following him around all day and apparently this is all they got for their money. He was handed the cartoon by a constituent and then someone else asked to see it so Denny held it up. And then he put it away. That’s pretty much it. Suggesting Denny supports the cartoon because he showed it to someone is as silly as suggesting Talking Points Memo supports it because they put it on their website.
Fair enough. But Rehberg didn't exactly stand up and set the record straight like McCain did in 2008.