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ADL Letter to Senator John McCain on Civility in the Presidential Campaign
ADL has written letters to Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, the major party nominees for president, calling on the candidates to reject ”divisive character defamation and scurrilous personal attacks” in the remaining weeks of the campaign. The full text of the letter to Senator McCain follows.

October 13, 2008

The Honorable John McCain
John McCain 2008
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215

Dear Senator McCain:

We have been concerned at the increasingly angry and destructive personal tone some supporters of the presidential candidates have taken.  As the campaign for President enters its final days, we are writing to both you and Senator Obama to underline the importance of your own role in rejecting divisive character defamation and scurrilous personal attacks.  We applaud your prompt action to tone down this angry tone at your town hall meeting in Minnesota on Friday evening.

While we understand well the fast-paced dynamics and intensity of an election campaign, we urge you to continue to be sensitive to the potential impact of harsh, personal attacks – including unfounded accusations designed to foment doubts about an opponent’s morality or patriotism.  The rigors of competition for public office can bring out both the best and the worst in our political system.  It is critically important for all candidates to reject the unprincipled appeals of those who would exploit voters’ fears, frustrations, and prejudices. 

The individual elected President on November 4 will inherit many problems as President – but healing the nation after a slash and burn, destructive campaign should not be among them.  We strongly believe that each candidate has a moral responsibility to help supporters set a tone for a civil discourse in which policy and political disagreements can be respected without bitterness and anger.

As a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, the Anti-Defamation League neither endorses nor opposes candidates for public office.


Glen Lewy,
National Chair

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League

Read ADL’s Letter to Sen. Barack Obama
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