(CNN) - John McCain said Friday that “it’s clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States” - the second time in as many weeks that his campaign has referenced positive remarks by Ahmed Yousef, a member of that group, about Barack Obama.
On Friday, the presumptive Republican nominee was asked about the Hamas leader’s comments on a campaign conference call with bloggers.
“…I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States,” said McCain. “So apparently has [Sandinista leader] Danny Ortega and several others. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare...If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas I think people can make judgments accordingly.”
A week ago, the Arizona senator’s campaign sent supporters a fundraising e-mail that said Hamas approved of Obama’s foreign policy vision, and is hoping for his victory this fall.
The Obama campaign condemned the remark. "We want to take Senator McCain at his word that he wants to run a respectful campaign, but that is becoming increasingly difficult when he continually tries to use the politics of association and makes claims he knows not to be true to advance his campaign," said Obama campaign spokesman, Hari Sevugan.
"This type of politics of division and distraction, not only lead to a campaign not worthy of the American people, but also has failed to help our families for too long."
McCain adviser Steve Schmidt told CNN's Dana Bash that the Hamas view was "a fair issue for the American people to ponder should he be the Democratic nominee for president."
“Hamas has said they want Barack Obama to win. The reason for that is his policy. He wants to negotiate with the terrorist-funding, nuclear-aspiring, holocaust-denying, Israel-threatening dictator of Iran.
“This election is being watched all around the world. The Hamas spokesman made his comments because of his [Obama’s] policy pronouncements.”
McCain himself told reporters Friday afternoon that the Hamas nod was "just a fact."
Hamas, apparently their North American spokesperson is endorsing Senator Obama. People can make their own judgment from that. I don't view that as anything but a statement of fact. If that.... is wrong, that the North American spokesman of Hamas has not endorsed Senator Obama, I'd be happy to retract my statement, and I hope there'll be corrections in the media that state otherwise."
(UPDATED with campaign, McCain response)