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. incunabulum

    McCain claims to be a military man, but now he suddenly doesn't know what it means to "lose one's bearings?" This is one of the most common phrases used among military men!

    Examples: "Don't lose your military bearing!" "I almost lost my military bearing." etc. The plural can also be used. And there is no connection to age!

    But maybe McCain forgot. You know, due to senility.

    May 9, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. outsider

    even the terorist believe that obama is a man of peace, love, honesty, unlike war monger macain, who believe that you have to bomb to make people agree

    May 9, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. John

    Ok McCain How many of your buddies incarcerated with you made it home after the War. Answer NON just what did you have to do that you were the only one to reurn home.

    May 9, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Alex

    Rush Limbaugh tried his best to label Obama as the weakest to use reverse psychology to scary democrats so that they will vote for Hillary. They know that they can beat her easily. That did not work since the news that he was off his drugs was leaked out and people did not take it seriously. It is expected that they will do everything in their power to attack him. They will distribute Wright video and attack him with whatever they can as McCain just said it. There should not be any illusion that McCain will keep his words of civility when the campaign is in full gear.

    What actually troublesome is Lieberman's continues appearance with McCain. I guess McCain is paying back favour to Lieberman by characterizing Obama as pro Hamas. It is not characterization of an organization as terrorist that makes a nation safe. It is reaching out and finding lasting peace. We can call a group or country whatever we want at the end of the day true peace can only be achieved through dialogue. That is what Obama is willing to do. Please cut lies for political point scoring and discuss why reaching out to enemy is a bad idea or explain why continues bombing and letting Americans die in an endless war is justifiable.

    May 9, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. j creek

    let's face it, obama is no friend of israel. his friend louis farakahn and jerimiah wright are racist anti jewish hate mongers and bigots. bigots of a feather flock together. obama himself has said that supporting israel does not mean supporting likud. i am a life long democrat and not jewish. but i dispise bigotry and racism. obama is up to his neck in bigotry and anti jewish friends and advisors. i will not vote for the empty suit that is barak hussein obama

    May 9, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. This guy is a joke

    Everyone knows McCain is a CLOSET LIBERAL. Every fibre in him dislikes the RNC and George Bush, but he goes along because he never listens to his conscience, this guys is at odds with himself. He flip flops everywhere, first he against the bush tax cuts now he is for it. He is for bushes immgration plans, then he is against it.
    The only reason why he is a republican and not an independent or democrat is because at the moment that is the only party he can be to fullfil is long held ambition to be president.

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. Mike in NYC

    M. Phillips wrote:

    "Why is Bill [sic] Lieberman always with McCain? Is he a ventriloquist? Who is the puppet?"

    Good point.

    McCain's taking chances having Joe L. with him. Especially when he talks about the Middle East - it doesn't give one confidence in McCain as an "honest broker."

    Frank wrote:

    "Someone once said that the Islamic Radicals will attempt to destroy our country from inside out."

    They're too late for that. The illegal immigrants are way ahead of them on that score.

    May 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Flat-earther, Georgia

    If our choices are Mac or BHO, we are in trouble. I hope some third party candidates run.

    May 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Danel

    Yeah right. Last time I check Hamas was democratically elected by the people of Palistine. That is a fear monger on the part of McCain. Soon we will get color coded alerts just to scare the heck out of the hillbellies and voted for McCain. No more!!

    May 9, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Freddie, La

    You know this big deal that McCain is making out of Obama's statement is sad. The statement of losing his bearings does not have to have anything to do with his age. Just another issue of political spin. If you (McCain) didn't make a big deal out of it no one would think twice about that statement. And how does anyone running for office have control over who endorses them, the same thing could be said about Haggie endorsing McCain. And John Haggie is VERY VERY negative towards Catholics. So what about that?

    May 9, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Mike - Texas

    Let's see;

    William Ayers – US terrorist friends with OBama
    Hamas – Middle East terrorist endorsed OBama


    Gives you something to think about doesn't it?

    May 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. Proud U.S. Army Veteran

    America is at grave risk behind the leadership of John McCain (Bush). God has a greater plan for this country. No benefit (s) has come to the American people as a result of this war, zero! McCain represents the past, Obama represents the future. Sometimes adults can be like a rebellious child, they need to be reminded repeatedly what’s of best for them.

    May 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. Missy

    "Losing his bearings" as a comment on age? Oh for goodness' sakes. Talk about a made up controversy.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. mary cleveland, ohio

    Frank – you lucked out and Cnn did post your comment. Now the entire world knows what an ignorant person sounds like.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Desmond Sequeira

    I did not at all get the impression that OBAMA was referring to McCain's age. Rather, to his insinuation that somehow OBAMA as President would enable Hamas to unfairly influence him.

    I think OMAMA's approach would be a whole lot more constructive toward all "opponents" than McCain's antagonistic mindset or, for that matter, Clinton's, will allow them to be.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. J.W. of Mississippi

    Joe should have someone check his bearings. He truly lost and it shows. Those two old guys need to go home and relax. America needs young new leadership. The world has changed and you two got left behind.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Daniel

    We're talking about bearings here. As in, direction. Not as in ball bearings, or marbles, or screws.

    McCain entered the race with a direction in mind regarding how he would run his campaign - the kinds of rhetoric he would or would not allow.

    The Hamas comment represents his unfortunate straying away from that direction. He's become lost in the politics of the thing; he's sacrificed his commitment to a virtuous campaign in the name of rallying the Republican base, which has never been fond of his maverick streak.

    He's lost his way regarding the ethics of his campaign. Lost his direction; his heading; his bearings. Nothing to do with his age. No implication of senility.

    And CNN, whose reporters I admire and who I believe have enough understanding of the English language to recognize this, should not be perpetuating the ridiculous idea that this comment was based on McCain's age.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Iakavous

    You people who claim that others need to "think" about why Hamas or some other so-called terrorist group supposedly supports Obama are a joke. You'll find any justification that you can use to cover up your true racist core. Ask yourself why the profiteering by corporations under the current administration is not important to you, why Oliver North who sold weapons to Iran with Regans approval is no big deal, why the suspension of Habeous Corpus is no big deal, why 15 of the 19 attackers on 911 came from Saudia Arabia yet we are invading other countries, why we do business with China – which is arguably the worse tyrants around. Nearly 8 years of a Republican Senate, Congress, White House and Supreme court and look what you have achieved – nothing. Unless you count all of the problems – broken military, record oil prices, economy in the toilet, generations of jihadis created, etc the list is nearly endless. YOUR RACIST, and you will latch on to anything that you think supports your racist ideology. You consistantly support the most incompetant president in US history who has brought us closer to a dictatorship than any before him. Learn your history you ignorant bluntheads – we are not going back to the days when your racist agendas disguised as states rights will be the norm. So why dont you "think" about that.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. K

    I've been noticing lately how irritating the high pitched whistle that happens when McCain pronounces the "S" sound. In addition to the McSame policies, I hope I don't have to listen to that whistle for the next four years.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. Sheila



    You Old School People are too slow to connect the Dots.

    Bearings on Wheels

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. J

    What if the American people suddenly want to discuss Reverend Hagee? I bet you'll be out here in a heartbeat talking about how its a private matter and how you aren't Rev. Hagee, and all that same "Smear" Obama's doing now.

    And does anyone actually think terrorists will tell you who they really support?

    It's more of a ...oh yea... sure... Obama... yeah we like him. The fact is Obama would be much worse for Hamas than McCain. Republican neo-con policies give terrorists the ammunition they need to recruit and the justification for their attacks.

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Kathy Ferguson

    Oh, please ... "losing his bearings" ... I think the Senator McCain camp is going over the top. Heck, I know two year olds that lose their bearings all the time. I should think Senator McCain would do better to realize that Senator Obama is saying that although Senator McCain is a war hero and was an effective political person ... he is losing his way in this political campaign aligning himself with George Bush and his failed policies. If you are going to be insulted, Senator McCain, at least be insulted by the right stuff. Good grief, what a mess. No wonder people are frustrated with politics and the media's role in making it seem ridiculous. Why don't Senator Obama and McCain just get on the phone and yell at each other ... and leave the rest of us weary Americans out of it?

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. No longer optomistic...

    I'm so very disappointed in people, all of them.

    I'm sorry I haven't been able to do more to help you, or educate you, it's pretty overwhelming. I simply do not understand how a species can be exposed to as much knowledge as you have, yet still be so totally and completely simple in the way you react.

    I'm truly disgusted we haven't come further in at least our attitude toward ourselves, if not our attitude toward others.

    I really am sorry. I may not know what I should have done to prevent this, but I most certainly should have done something more than I did....

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. a middle aged white woman in SF

    Joe Lieberman! YIKES.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. Anthony

    Let's end this right here. I watched this interview and what the media is not showing is the WHOLE answer to the question. Obama references McCain having stated he was not going to go negative and then came out with the hamas obama connection "theory" which was the question Obama was answering. His reference to "bearing" that is getting played up here, had NOTHING to do with age. He was talking about McCain veering from his "Straight Talk, No-Negative" campaign strategy.

    Please do not be duped by this ridiciulous journalism and spin that the MSM is stirring up. Senator Obama was not referring to Senator McCain's age in any way, shape, or form. Listen to the entire interview yourself and you will see exactly what he meant.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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