May 9th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain defends his 'bearings'


Watch portions Sens. McCain and Lieberman's remarks Friday.

NEWARK, New Jersey (CNN) – John McCain on Friday defended his charge that the terrorist organization Hamas is rooting for Barack Obama to win the presidency - and said voters were welcome to discuss whether his age should be a factor in the fall campaign.

A Hamas official told an interviewer last month that the group approved of Obama's candidacy. Friday, McCain said the group's opinion is relevant - despite Obama's characterization of that opinion as a “smear.”

“It's very obvious to everyone that Senator Obama shares nothing of the values or goals of Hamas, which is a terrorist organization,” McCain said. “But it's also fact that a spokesperson from Hamas said that he approves of Obama's candidacy. I think that's of interest to the American people.”

McCain's campaign reacted with outrage Thursday to Obama's remark that the senator was “losing his bearings” over the course of the campaign - a phrase they said was a dig at the Arizona senator's age. But McCain himself said Friday the language didn't bother him.

“I ignore it,” McCain said. “I don’t take offense to it.”

Asked if the Obama comment was in fact a reference to his age - and whether that topic was a fair issue in the campaign - McCain said voters are welcome to discuss it.

“Any discussion in my view of any issue that the American people think is legitimate is up to them,” McCain said, adding that the topic of Obama’s former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright is also fair game.

“Every issue that the American people want to be an issue, if it's part of their discussions, it's fine with me, it's fine with me,” he said. “Just as the Rev. Wright’s remarks. I don’t believe that Sen. Obama shares his views in any way, but he has said it’s a legitimate topic of discussion. If that’s what the American people want to discuss, that’s fine.”

McCain said he will “display the same vigor and the same energy that I have been able to display throughout this campaign.”

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. trudy

    i think that you have to realise that Mr McCain is attracting the hamas rather than scoring political point. b4 now every religion was a bit quiet until bush stimulated them. MacCain should not use hamas as a political strategy

    May 9, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. Uncle Sam

    The fact that Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was the Democratic VP in the 2000 race, has so strongly endorsed Sen. McCain for the presidency speaks volumes to the man and statesman that John McCain is.

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 9, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. mitchell from arkansaw

    to very smart lady.your dumb.

    May 9, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Alex H

    Joe Regis- Spreading fear already? WHEN DID WE STOP???

    May 9, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. NoCountryForOldMen

    McCain hasn't just lost his bearings, he doesn't know which end of the microphone to speak into.

    Hilarious! Dunno how they gave THIS guy the nomination. If McCain's the best of the bunch that the Rebulicans can come up with, they are in some pretty serious trouble. Obama won't even have to go negative on gramps. Just play all the George Bush attacks from the 2000 election, when McCain weighed in at a young 66 years. This old man turns 73 on August 29. And yes, 'the American People' do care that their president is vigorous, and not a dribbling, brittle, old man.

    May 9, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. Gloria

    To Jan from Boca Rotan:

    Don't be silly...those are not his friends. When are you people going to listen to what HE says?

    Or maybe we should consider Parsley & Hagee personal friends of McCain, also, right??

    May 9, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Emily Coletta

    I'm happy that Hamas supports Obama.

    When was the last time our enemies looked at our country with an open mind? John McCain is allergic to peace.

    May 9, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Charlotte

    Whether Hamas likes Obama and whether Obama likes Hamas are two very distinct questions which McCain supports should not try to run together. Hamas may very erroneously think Obama is sympathetic to their cause. Maybe they support him for no other reason than because his father was Muslim. This has no reflection on what Obama is really about or how Obama feels about Hamas. To try to suggest otherwise is extremely disingenous.

    Although I was a 2000-McCain supporter and an ardent 2008-McCain opposer, I am very glad to see him make this response instead of the previous "why are you trying to call me old?" I hope for the sake of a refreshing presidential campaign that McCain can maintain this level of dignity until November.

    May 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. American Girl

    Rod Parsley, a person John McCain sought out for support says:
    "The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore..... The United States, has historically understood herself as a bastion against Islam," but "history is crashing in upon us."

    Can someone please tell me when and what historical document written by John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock or the other founding fathers state this.

    McCain is a War General and is looking to get spiritual guidance from people like Parsley on dealing with the Middle East. In addition, Parsley says the US is committing Genocide on the Black race through government funded abortions.....

    Get real!! McCain is who Osama, Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah and all other radical extremist want in the office. Just like they wanted Bush.

    May 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Rich

    Well, let's see, John. Given the choice between a war-mongerer and someone willing to talk with people he disagrees with....yeah, I'd rather have Obama, too.

    May 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. John

    Michael, Canada- How is this a smear campaign? He stated that just because they endorsed Obama didn't mean that he shared their views. He simply is pointing out that a terrorist organization finds Obama's foreign policy plans appealing. That is a very legitimate issue based on real policies that are going to be implemented. Also, whoever was trying to compare Hagee and Wright needs to get their head out of the gutter. If you can't see the differences in the relationships between the two then you probably shouldn't be voting, because you are incapable of logical thinking.

    May 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Dan

    I can't wait to go against McCain. What a complete moron. This isn't dirty politics? Come on, people. If you base who you're voting for on a single comment made by Hamas, you shouldn't be allowed to vote because you are too stupid. And, I have a bunch of stuff to sell you.

    Make up your own minds based on proposals, track record, character, etc.

    May 9, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. GCG - Austin, TX

    Typical of the Republican establishment in recent years: fear mongering.

    That's how they got through Kerry, but I think the American Public is a lot smarter now than it was 4 years ago and will see through this specious argument as nothing more than fear mongering and a complete non-issue in this election.

    May 9, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Louis


    May 9, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. brian bernard


    May 9, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Pam

    That comment had nothing to do with his age and he knows it.

    May 9, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  17. Tim

    You know who approves of John McCain? George W. Bush. We know what great judgement he has. So those of you supporting McCain can take pride in the fact that you have the same judgement as one of the worst presidents in history.

    May 9, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  18. Swiss in Canada

    Susie, Jan from Boca, Debbie
    You can't be that stupid! Don't belief everything! Do you knwo where and what Hamas is???? Think before you talk....

    May 9, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. TRC

    The ageism out here is truly frightening! How dare you disrespect those who have gone before you by telling them to "go retire" and other childish rants! THIS is why this country is in trouble, because the younger generation has ZERO! ZERO! respect for anyone, including those who are older. I AM JUST SICKENED by the childish comments out here! YOU WILL BE John McCain's age some day and I sure hope the world doesn't deem YOU as irrelevant and worthless as you've deemed this man. This man fought hard for his country and is doing what he can to make a difference and lead us. What have you done??? For anyone slamming this man's age - may you find out just what that feels like one day, and may you realize that by talking like you're talking you show how very uneducated and unintelligent you really are.

    May 9, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. Matt in FL

    When he was defending his "bearings", did Joe Lieberman have to whisper in his ear what to say again?

    May 9, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. Mauri

    John McCain doesn't need anyone to explain the difference between attacking and being attacked. What he needs to know is that Obama will cry of being attacked, while lobbing the most idiotic attacks against his opponent, just as he did with Clinton. Perhaps she was pandering, but what about his sporting those tight blue jeans while sipping on a can of Bud?

    May 9, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. NY RICAN American

    I am an American and MY ISSUES are:

    1) You called your wife C_ _ _!

    2) your Bushism!

    3) IRAQ WAR!

    4) Wife's Taxes

    5) Flip Flops

    6) Wife stealing Meds from Not-for- Profit!

    7) Your old mind (Shiets Sunis Suzuki Kawasaki)
    Enough with the socalled Good OLD politics

    Americans for Obama '08
    (Lets Talk) Swifty!!!

    May 9, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Tania

    Carter went to meet with Hamas and 3 days later war breaks out in Beirut .
    This is the same kind of President you'll get when you vote for Obama.
    Obama is one of the most liberal and inexperienced Senators and is naive and foolish when it comes to foreign policies.
    I hope it won't be too late when he finally gets exposed for who he really is and what he truly stands for.
    This man is a phoney..!!

    May 9, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. a reason to believe

    Maybe, just maybe, Hamas would like to see Obama as President because for the last 20 years, we have had nothing short of a Cold War with Islam with 8 years of unnecessary loss of American lives. McCain and Hill would do nothing short of continuing the last 20 years of foreign policy and the Middle East is getting tired of that kind of policy/war mongering (see "Obliterate the terrorists if Israel were attacked" comment). Obama might actually do something positive for the region and bring about a peace that all can accept and be a part of. The last thing we need is a continuation of the last 20 years of inept and aggressive foreign policy towards the Middle East that has done nothing but drive our economy down, weakened the dollar, driven up the price of oil, given OPEC more control than it should have ever had and produced a generation of radical extremists that want nothing more than democracy to burn in hell. I'm ok with change – how about you?

    May 9, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |

    It's true. McCain is an old fossil. He speaks of his 50 years of public service as if we are supposed to bow down to him. Old Man McCain’s extensive and prolonged seat in the senate will be his downfall.

    McCain embraces many of the Bush policy's that have destroyed this country. McCain wants to stay in Iraq for another 1000 years. How come old men are always in a hurry to send young men off to die.

    McCain suffers from PTSD as a result of his internment and torture as a POW, 40 years ago. He is in no mental capacity to be president. Besides: JOHN MCCAIN IS WAY TOO OLD!!!

    J. Martin
    Los Angeles

    May 9, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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