Denver, Aug 29 : Former US President Jimmy Carter has called Republican presidential candidate John McCain a "distinguished naval officer," but said the Arizona senator has been "milking every possible drop of advantage" from his time served as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Carter said he was bewildered by McCain's performance at the Saddleback Presidential Forum hosted by pastor and author Rick Warren in Lake Forest, Calif., earlier this month.
Carter said that whether he was asked about religion, domestic or foreign affairs, every answer came back to McCain's five-and-a-half years as a POW.
"John McCain was able to weave in his experience in a Vietnam prison camp, no matter what the question was," Carter said.
"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," he said.
Carter told USA Today and Gannett News Service reporters ahead of Barack Obama's acceptance speech to cap off the Democratic National Convention.
Carter spoke of Obama's challenges facing the lingering effects of racism in the United States and the ability of the Clintons to bring their supporters over to Obama.
Carter cited a USA Today/Gallup Poll last week that found 47 percent of Clinton supporters said they were solidly behind Obama and 30 percent said they would vote for McCain, someone else or no one at all.
"I think that this week has eliminated that disparity," he said.