May 16th, 2008
10:02 AM ET
13 years ago

Clinton aide says McCain ‘flip-flopped’ on Hamas talks


Watch James Rubin's interview Friday.

(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign said Friday that claims by former State Department official Jamie Rubin that the presumptive Republican nominee had advocated unconditional dialogue with Hamas were misleading.

Rubin, who supports Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, wrote an op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post relating an interview he conducted with McCain on the British network Sky News shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006.

"Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?" Rubin asked.

McCain said the United States would not be able to avoid a dialogue with the Islamic militant group. "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another,” he said. “And I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice …

“But it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

The Arizona senator has criticized Barack Obama for both his willingness to speak with hostile nations like Iran, and repeatedly raised what he has described as Hamas’ approval of Obama’s candidacy.

On CNN’s American Morning, Rubin said McCain’s criticism of Obama’s position was “the ultimate flip-flop in American politics.”

“When he was in Davos amongst the European crowd and I interviewed him there two years ago, he was talking as if it was appropriate and natural and reasonable to negotiate with Hamas, the new government of the Palestinian territories,” said Rubin. “And then two years later, he's taking a very, very different position… smearing people for suggesting that one ought to talk to Hamas when it was he himself who was prepared to talk to Hamas two years ago.”

The McCain campaign said that his position had remained consistent: no dialogue with rogue or suspected terrorst nations or parties without pre-conditions. “There should be no confusion, John McCain has always believed that serious engagement would require mandatory conditions and Hamas must change itself fundamentally – renounce violence, abandon its goal of eradicating Israel and accept a two state solution,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. He sent reporters a 2006 McCain statement in which he called on Hamas to renounce violence - though he did not say that requirement would be a pre-condition for dialogue.

“John McCain’s position is clear and has always been clear, the President of the United States should not unconditionally meet with leaders of Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah. Barack Obama has made his position equally clear, and has pledged to meet unconditionally with Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leaders of other rogue regimes, which shows incredibly dangerous and weak judgment.”

But in a January 2006 CNN interview, McCain had stressed conditions Hamas would need to meet before establishing a working relationship of any kind with the United States. “Hopefully that Hamas now that they are going to govern will be motivated to renounce this commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again. We can resume aid, we can resume the peace process,” he told CNN’s Betty Nguyen.

On a conference call Thursday, McCain said that Obama’s position was “unacceptable” and shows that he “does not have the knowledge, the experience, the background to make the kind of judgments that are necessary to preserve this nation's security."

After President Bush seemed to suggest Thursday that Obama’s foreign policy vision that included engagement was fatally flawed, the Illinois senator said again that his position had been mischaracterized. “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel,” he said in a statement.

He is planning to respond to attacks on his position at a speech Friday afternoon in South Dakota.

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. White male for Obama

    Libya, North Korea, Sunni in Iraq were the peace George Bush and Maccain succeeded in bringing peace with.

    These people are not win over with war, but with deplomacy.
    Bush doesn't want to appeace torrorist ,but gave a lot of money to the Iraqi Sunni.
    Bush lifted sansion on Libya, appease North Korea for its to give up it Nuclear weapons, Now Maccain and Bush are criticizing democrats for willing to meet leader we like and leader we don't like with preparations.

    Maccain said America ought to negotiate with Hamas for peace. Now he criticized Obama because " Hamas likes Obama because of his policies?"
    Washington politice are shameful, say one thing and criticize someone else.

    Many times Maccain and Bush have criticized Obama;s policies, but they often turn around to implement Obama ideas. Like action to bomb any Militant activities in Pakistan if the Pakistani government doesn't take action. Bush and Maccain criticized Obama, but went ahead do just what they were criticising.

    What will you call that? Hypocrits.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Mish, NYC

    It amazes me how all of the Clinton supporters are blaming Obama, the DNC and everyone else for HRC losing the Democratic race instead of blaming HRC. It would be good to note that HRC lost the race herself..from her maniacal husband, her entitled attitude which made her not look past Super Tuesday, her horrible management of her compaign finances, her super-shady past and present, to her constant flip-flopping all the time.

    Any idiot that decides to vote for McCain out of spite because HRC didn't win HAS TO BE NUTS! McCain is the second coming of Bush and it scares the bejesus out of me to think that people will vote for him just out of spite knowing darn well this man will not properly handle anything that needs to be addressed currently like the economy, astronomical gas and food prices and also Iraq.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. GiGi

    Please go back to school and get your GED. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and your spelling shows your true ignorance. Are you from West Virginia?

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. V

    Hey Fred, you represent the factionalism that exists in this country, digging deep to try to find ways to divide us. Obama is the only one who seems to understand this, and wants to fix it. He has my vote in '08.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. paul

    This is American politics at its best; nothing new or surprising. Republican, Democrat, or otherwise, conveniently changing one's stand on any issue for political expediency is the norm.

    I am, however, shocked by some of the reponses. Chris, so much venom, so little literacy!

    May 16, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Tony - DC

    Give it up Gramps!

    May 16, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. JC

    It was Hillary and Bill against Obama.
    Now it's Hillary and Obama against McCain.
    They must have agreed on who the Dem nominee is.

    May 16, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. White male for Obama

    Belle what is your point? all I read...balalalalal it has nothing to do with the topic..... balalalala...Belle... you want to dig dirt, dig your candidate dirt first..
    thanks. please dig up your candidate dirt first and see how how dirty corrupt, back stabber and many more scandal you will find.

    But for now we are focusing on Maccain/Bush.

    May 16, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Tea Party

    HEADLINE: Cilnton aide says someone "flip-flopped" on issue due to political expediency.

    Pot, meet Kettle.

    May 16, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Billy From Fla

    Who Cares

    This is politics....No one flip flops more than Obama.

    May 16, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Uncle Sam

    We have on the one hand a naive presidential hopeful, while on the other an experienced heroic statesman with a proven record of change. Am I missing something?

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 16, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Tony - DC

    McCain and Bush are two of a kind.

    Bush: "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided,' " Bush said. "We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

    McCain thinks just like Bush. One idiot for 8 years is enough. 98% of the AMerican people are apathetic, lazy, ignorant and will follow the leader and to whatever they are told. Too pathetic to think for themselves. The government is suppose to work for us, not the other way around, that's why thse jokers are elected!

    Wake the hell up America!

    May 16, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Steve

    John McCain is the quintessential politician who will tell you what he's gonna do, why he's gonna do it and then tell you why he DIDN'T do it.

    May 16, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Tony - DC

    Who wants a refill on their kool-aid?????

    May 16, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Greg Pa

    did any dems read what McCain said. What he said and what you say he said are to different things. Or are you to dumb to get that.

    he said if we have to deal. what dose that mean?

    May 16, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. Tony - DC

    I, John McSame, do hereby promise to continue with the Bush/Cheney .....................................

    That's exactly what's in store for this country if that fool gets elected!

    May 16, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. Tony - DC

    So some of you want John McCain as president? I can see it now!

    I, John McSame, do hereby promise to continue with the Bush/Cheney .....................................

    That's exactly what's in store for this country if that fool gets elected!

    May 16, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. Texan for Progression

    To Belle: I'm confused, on the one hand, I agree that Clinton did say that McCain was better prepared to be Commander in Chief, but on the other hand she said that it would be a mistake to vote McCain over Obama. Help me to reconcile that....

    May 16, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Tony - DC

    It's not Obama we need to fear as much as Michelle. Now that woman is TROUBLE!

    May 16, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Darth Vadik, CA

    Obama Supporter,

    You are really a Republican, arn't you, a freeper?

    May 16, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. DPU

    Look back at

    GOP Rules May 16th, 2008 11:08 am ET

    Huh? Excuse me but are you calling liberals 'dumb'? Perhaps you should repeat elementary school. Oh I am sorry, maybe you are a product of the Republican Education Policy. Looks like you were left way far behind. There are many brillant Rebublicans sir, McCain used to be one of them. Talk about puppet! I can't begin to explain this man over the past few months. "flip Flopper" is an understatement. Your politics is dying and so is your party. It began with Mississippi the other night and you can expect more in the coming election. It's time to do whats right! It's time to be a responsible nation and really fulfill our promise of "good will to all men".

    Obama 08' CHANGE

    May 16, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |


    May 16, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Darth Vadik, CA

    GOP Rules,

    Keep dreaming

    May 16, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Texan for Progression

    To "Obama Supporter" who uses that name tag in sarcasm. That which is in our hearts is what spews from our mouths. You have used the term "Hate" far more than even the most radical Obama supporting blog I've read thus far. I would venture to say that you are projecting your hatred for Obama onto Obama and his supporters.

    May 16, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. Michael Kirksville, MO

    Why do some of you accuse those who will not support Obama as being right-wing blog stooges trying to make Dems look divided?? Republicans don't have to do this – WE ARE DIVIDED AND TERIMINALLY I MIGHT ADD. Yes, we are real dems – many of us life-long dems, who will not vote for an unqualified pup just for what he represents. This is not some bitterness that will wash away as Nov. approaches. We are democrats, fighting for what we feel is best for our country, for our future. By either writing in Senator Clinton (hands-down the most qualified candidate we have seen in generations!!!), or voting McCain, we will see to it that Obama does not win the presidency. And mark my words, he will not make it to the presidency.

    May 16, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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