Out of bounds! McCain misstates Obama sex-ed record

McClatchy NewspapersSeptember 9, 2008 

WASHINGTON — Throw the flag against: The McCain-Palin campaign.

Call: Unsportsmanlike conduct.

What happened: A new 30-second TV ad attacks Barack Obama's record on education, saying that Obama backed legislation to teach "'comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners." The announcer then says, "Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family."

Why that's wrong: This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain's votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12.

But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach "age-appropriate" sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.

Republican Alan Keyes tried to use Obama's vote against him in the 2004 U.S. Senate race. At the time, Obama spoke about wanting to protect young children from abuse. He made clear then that he was not supporting teaching kindergartners about explicit details of sex.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Tuesday of McCain's ad: "It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls."

Penalty: 15 yards for the McCain campaign's deliberate low blow.

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