McCain Repudiates Right Wing Smears on Obama

I’ve said before that if the election turned out to be John McCain versus Hillary Clinton I would have a tough time deciding. While I might agree with Clinton more if we were go make a laundry list of issues, McCain has an edge over Clinton based upon character. We saw that again today. After further rounds of Clinton going negative against Obama we saw a clear distinction from McCain. The Swamp reports that Bill “Willie” Cunningham, a conservative radio talk show host in Cincinnati, spoke before McCain and resorted to a number of attacks on Obama such as using his middle name and calling him a Chicago hack:

So McCain apologized. He told reporters after the rally that he hadn’t heard Cunningham’s schtick because he hadn’t arrived at the hall yet. But after his staff told him what Wild Bill said, McCain wasted no time in saying he was sorry.

“I take responsibility and I repudiate what he said,” McCain gamely said. “I will not tolerate anything in this campaign that denigrates either Sen. Obama or Sen. (Hillary) Clinton.”

The Caucus also reports on McCain’s apology:

“It’s my understanding that before I came in here a person who was on the program before I spoke made some disparaging remarks about my two colleagues in the Senate, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton,” he said. “I have repeatedly stated my respect for Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, that I will treat them with respect. I will call them Senator. We will have a respectful debate, as I have said on hundreds of occasions. I regret any comments that may have been made about these two individuals who are honorable Americans.” Responding to questions from reporters, Mr. McCain said he did not hear what Mr. Cunningham said, saying that when he arrived, Mr. Portman was on stage.

“Whatever suggestion that was made that was any way disparaging to the integrity, character, honesty of either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton was wrong,” he said, “I condemn it, and if I have any responsibility, I will take the responsibility, and I apologize for it.”

He called Mr. Obama a “man of integrity” and said he was someone he had come to know “pretty well and I admire.”

He also said that it was not appropriate to invoke Mr. Obama’s middle name in the course of the campaign.

“I absolutely repudiate such comments,” he said. “It will never happen again.”

After seeing many dirty campaigns from Republicans, as well as seeing Hillary Clinton’s campaign this year, it will be a welcome change if a Obama vs. McCain campaign were to remain at this level.

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  1. 1
    Mike Butcher says:

    The question is did he “reject” those comments sufficiently. A little levity, that seems apropos for the moment.

    Again I am amazed at what seems to be selective memory of past campaigns and the implied assertion that previous Democratic campaigns have been any less dirty than Republican campaigns. The stuff that Hillary is throwing out is the same types of tricks used against Bush the elder, Senator Dole, and Bush the Younger. I wouldn’t pretend to claim that Republicans haven’t trotted out Willie Horton and other tricks, but G.W. was attached to the dragging death of the black man in Texas like he was in the back of the pick up telling them how to do it. These tricks by Hillary aren’t new. They are just against a candidate you are sympathetic toward.

    It is refreshing to see the likely candidates of both parties pointedly avoiding these same tactics and entertaining seeing them fail so miserably for Hillary. The article by the NY times brought condemnation by both sides of the aisle, as it should have, and these ridiculous tidbits that seem to be “popping up” out of no where like the African Dress are equally absurd.

    A friend, who leans more to the Right than I, was lamenting McCains repudiation of the comments as another example of McCain not being sufficiently Conservative. I pointed out to him that while there are individuals on the Left that will never be satisfied with any resolution of a problem (i.e. Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton) because they derive their worth, power and income from being offended the same is true for the Right in that their rancor will never be sated for the Left because they too derive their worth, power and income by generating animus to the other side.

    These two candidates are far apart in their desired policies, but the demeanor in which they conduct themselves in their relations to their opponents is …..nice.

    I have to add that Obama’s retort to Hillary on the choice of “reject” vs. “denounce” was delicious. He was able to turn that on her so effortlessly and with such seeming good grace. She must be screaming inside.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    There’s no selective memory. Haven’t you noticed the slogan of change being used by Obama?

    I don’t know how clean the campaign between Obama and McCain will remain (assuming that is how he general election turns out). I’m hoping it will turn out like what many envisioned back in 1963 as a campaign between Kennedy and Goldwater. Instead of a clean campaign we wound up with LBJ and the mushroom cloud commercial. From there we had Richard Nixon in ’68. The hope is that if Clinton loses the Democratic nomination for her use of such tactics we might actually get to a point where politicians see this as a risky proposition. It is questionable if we can really keep elections honest, but it is worth trying for.

  3. 3
    David Drissel says:

    I’m really disturbed by the narrow-minded attacks leveled at Barrack Obama over the last several days regarding such non-issues as his middle name (which was his Kenyan grandfather’s name) and the photo showing him wearing tribal robes presented to him while visiting Kenya. Even though Obama is a long-time Christian who was born in the United States, some of his political opponents are resorting to fear mongering about his ethnic/ancestral background.

    There has been a not-so-subtle use of such xenophobic themes by persons associated with the Clinton campaign and an all-out frontal assault by far-right talk radio commentators and bloggers in recent days. Anyone who would resort to such tactics is attempting to appeal to the unwarranted fears of many voters, particularly those who are easily swayed by such race-baiting demagoguery.

    I would expect such ethnocentric tactics from conservative talk show hosts such as Bill Cunningham and Rush Linbaugh, since they are notorious for appealing to the dark side of the American electorate. But to have fellow Democrats employ such tactics is really sickening. As Linbaugh of all people noted on the O’Reilly Factor recently, the origin of the “controversy” over Obama’s middle name goes back to Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton. It was actually a Clinton surrogate, former Senator Bob Kerry, who first repeatedly used Obama’s middle name back in December while he was campaigning on behalf of Sen. Clinton.

    As a liberal Democrat, I am very disturbed that the Clinton campaign would use or condone such a xenophobic approach. Did Hillary apologize for Bob Kerry’s remarks or admonish him in any way, shape, or form? No. It’s very sad that Sen. Clinton’s campaign is apparently resorting to such tactics even while John McCain has criticized such language.

    Why does the Clinton campaign feel the need to encourage xenophobia in attacking their rival? This sort of thing is very ugly and Senator Clinton owes the American people an apology for her campaign’s thinly veiled attacks on her rival’s ethnic/ancestral background.

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