McCASKILL TO STEPHANOPOULOS: McCain’s age, melanoma are “a reality…we have to face”

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reports: Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, said this morning Republican nominee John McCain’s age and history of melanoma are fair topics for political discussion.

“I think what we’re talking about is a reality,” McCaskill said in an exclusive interview on “This Week.”  “Other people talk about his melanoma.  We’re talking about a reality here that we have to face.”

On Friday, McCaskill had previewed this line of attack, telling Missouri reporters that McCain would be “one of the oldest presidents we've ever had,” according to an account in the Kansas City Star.

On “This Week,” McCaskill pointed to McCain’s age to question his judgment in picking Sarah Palin as his running mate.

“This is someone who's going to be one heartbeat away from the presidency,” said McCaskill. “All of us know it.”

In response, key McCain supporter Carly Fiorina accused McCaskill of “ageism.”

“I frankly find this disrespectful in the extreme,” she said. “I think this continued resort to ‘he's too old’ is desperation, frankly -- not to mention disrespectful to a very capable commander in chief.”

Last spring, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean had said his party would avoid invoking McCain’s age during the general election.

“I doubt we will bring it up in the election,” Dean said in April. “There is somewhat of a higher ethical bar on what we do. We don't have any Lee Atwaters or Karl Roves on our side.”

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