ABC's Rick Klein and Sara Just report: This is not the easiest week for John McCain to get equal time in the media - not with so many journalists in the Middle East to report on Barack Obama's trip there. And the New York Times op-ed page isn't making it any easier.
As first reported by The Drudge Report, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, submitted an opinion piece to the New York Times last week and the paper has rejected it.
A week earlier, the paper published an op-ed by Obama, about the Democrat's plans for troop draw-down in Iraq. A few days later, the McCain campaign submitted a column rebutting the Obama piece.
According to McCain campaign staffers, the Times rejected the McCain piece and asked for a rewrite to respond directly to some of the claims in the Obama piece, and include an outline of the Republican's timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq and conditions for withdrawal.
According to McCain campaign staffers, the rejection came Friday night from New York Times oped editorial page editor David Shipley via email:
"I'd be very eager to publish the Senator on the oped page. However I'm not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written," Shipley writes, according to a copy of the message provided to ABC News.
"It would be terrific to have an article from Sen. McCain that mirrors Sen. Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms how Sen. McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory -- with troop levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate."
The McCain campaign has refused to rewrite the piece, saying that the Times' suggestions are tantamount to insisting that he change his position in order to get his opinions published. McCain has refused throughout the campaign to detail any specifics regarding timetable for troop withdrawal in Iraq.
"John McCain believes that victory in Iraq must be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables. Unlike Barack Obama, that position will not change based on politics or the demands of the New York Times." said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.
The New York Times' spokesperson Catherine Mathis issued this statement Monday:
"It is standard procedure on our Op-Ed page, and that of other newspapers, to go back and forth with an author on his or her submission. We look forward to publishing Senator McCain's views in our paper just as we have in the past. We have published at least seven Op-Ed pieces by Senator McCain since 1996. The New York Times endorsed Senator McCain as the Republican candidate in the presidential primaries. We take his views very seriously."
The McCain campaign says the New York Post has now expressed interest in running the McCain piece.