SEDONA, Arizona (CNN) – In a Tuesday interview on CNN’s American Morning, John McCain dismissed news reports about Sarah Palin’s pronouncement that the United States should “absolutely” attack terrorists within Pakistan as nothing more than “sound bite politics.”
But McCain refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden’s recent criticisms of clean coal - comments used by the McCain campaign in a radio ad and Web video - occurred under similar off-the-cuff circumstances.
John Roberts asked McCain about his joint interview with Palin on Monday’s CBS Evening News, in which both candidates asserted that Palin’s caught-on-camera remarks constituted “gotcha journalism.”
“But at the same time you have gone after Senator Biden for a comment that he made under similar circumstances about clean coal technology,” Roberts asked. “Your campaign even released a video of part of his comments. Was that gotcha politics?”
“Well, I believe it was at a town hall meeting that he said it,” McCain said of Biden. “This was - hers was in an encounter in a pizza parlor where the question was framed so that of course we're going to go after terrorists.”
But Biden’s comments dismissing coal as environmentally hazardous actually occurred on a rope line after a town hall event in Maumee, Ohio last week and were recorded by a voter’s hand-held camera and posted to YouTube.
Palin’s mention of Pakistan occurred at Tony Luke’s cheesesteak shop (not a pizza parlor) in south Philadelphia on Saturday night - a stop organized by her campaign. A CNN camera crew, acting as a representative of the five television networks, was brought to Tony Luke’s along with the campaign motorcade and, during the course of the event, recorded Palin’s conversation with restaurant patron Michael Rovito.
McCain, in the interview, suggested that Palin was responding to a general question about whether or not a McCain administration would go after terrorists.
However, Rovito, who had asked Palin two previous questions about her thoughts on Pakistan and Waziristan, asked the governor specifically: “So we do cross border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan, you think?”
Palin’s answer: "If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should.”
McCain’s final point was that his administration would never publicly declare a pending attack within Pakistan’s borders.
“What she said was that she was going to respond to terrorist attacks,” he told Roberts. “And I'm saying we're going to respond to terrorist attacks. I'm not going to announce that I'm going to attack Pakistan.”