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Carter: McCain 'milking' POW status

Former President Jommy Carter (2nd-R) talks to Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson while Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Barack Obama's vice president pick, watches on during the second night of the Democratic National Convention in the Pepsi Center in Denver on August 26, 2008. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch)
Former President Jommy Carter (2nd-R) talks to Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson while Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Barack Obama's vice president pick, watches on during the second night of the Democratic National Convention in the Pepsi Center in Denver on August 26, 2008. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo

DENVER, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Former President Jimmy Carter says Republican U.S. presidential contender John McCain is "milking" his status as a former prisoner of war, USA Today reports.

In an interview with the newspaper, Carter said McCain is a "distinguished Naval officer" but he said McCain has been "milking every possible drop of advantage" from his Vietnam War ordeal by using it extensively as part of his defense against criticism by political opponents.

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"John McCain was able to weave in his experience in a Vietnam prison camp, no matter what the question was," said Carter. "It's much better than talking about how he's changed his total character between being a senator, a kind of a maverick … and his acquiescence in the last few months with every kind of lobbyist pressure that the right wing Republicans have presented."

Carter was critical of Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate but has endorsed McCain for president and plans to speak next week at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

"I would hope that the Democrats could have enough senators elected in November so that we would not any longer need to include Joe Lieberman among the senators," Carter said.

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