McCain’s Republican Primary Challenger Collapses
Former Congressman J.D. Hayworth was mounting a spirited challenge to 2008 Republican Presidential nominee John McCain's U.S. Senate re-election bid. Polls have even showed Hayworth closing the gap with McCain to single-digits in recent months.
However, the bombshell revelation that Hayworth starred in an infomercial for a firm that offered to sell people the "secrets" of getting "free money from the government" has rocked the former Congressman's campaign.
Shortly after losing his 2006 re-election bid, Hayworth went to work for a company called Proven Methods Seminars and appeared in the 30-minute paid program using his title of "Former Congressman" to lend legitimacy to a program that promised to reveal the hidden "free money" that could be had just by applying for Federal grants.
A poll taken shortly before the news of the infomercial broke showed McCain with an 11% lead over Hayworth. A new survey out today puts the Senator on top of his challenger by a 23% margin -- the most significant swing in the race since April when Hayworth began rapidly gaining ground.
Hayworth initially defended his work on the infomercial, but has since moved to apologize and attempt to put the episode behind him.
On Monday, Hayworth said: "I always say about any product or service, one of the staples I learned growing up is caveat emptor, 'buyer beware.' I think that is a given in any commercial endeavor - I would certainly hope in this one. But yeah, I'm a broadcaster, and yeah, I appeared in this, and yes, it was a job. And that's that."
McCain's campaign has gleefully jumped all over the Hayworth scandal.
"J.D. Hayworth lent his name and the his credibility as a former Member of the U.S. Congress to help an obvious rip-off scam," said McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.
By Thursday, things had changed: "I should not have made the ad. It was a mistake. I believed, as did former Congressman J.C.Watts, this to be a reputable firm, but I did not completely check out the organization," Hayworth said in a statement. "I hope voters will look past a video presentation made three years ago and instead look at the issues confronting us in 2010."
The McCain campaign was quick to respond to Hayworth's backtrack: "This is a far cry from just four days ago, when Congressman Hayworth blamed the victims of this scam, coldly stating, 'buyer beware.' We couldn't agree more. When it comes to J.D. Hayworth, voters beware."