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. Venus

    Ha,ha,ha,ha they got Mc Sane on video regarding this matter!!!

    Hey – The Democrats can thank Bush for his stupid statement yesterday!

    This is the blessing we need to start coming together! This is perfect!

    Once we unite against Mc Cain............................. we win the white house!

    Go Obama! Come on Hillary – welcome back to the party!

    May 16, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. Same O same O

    Obama is cnn's pick,but he will be selling used cars on the south side of chicaro this time next year when the GOP gets through with him.

    May 16, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. Independent

    He is absolutely correct on this one. No matter how McCain tries to frame this, it is what it is. He flip-flops like a fish out of water. No Republican in the White House in 2008! Democrats, unite to fight against Big Brother and his bullies!

    May 16, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. adrian


    May 16, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. Walter

    So what else is new?

    He flip-flopped on the Bush tax cuts.

    He flip-flopped on immigration.

    He flip-flopped on the religious right.

    Flip-flopping is just what this lying old hypocrite does!

    May 16, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  6. Debby

    Yes he said deal with them one way or another. McCain didn't say he would rush in and speak with them without preconditions like Obama said in his debate. Obama shot himself in the foot when he said that and now its public knowledge from a public debate. All the Republicans have to do is play that part of the debate over and over in an add and Obama doesn't have a leg to stand on with this issue. He can rant to Bush all he wants, but Bush didn't mention his name and it will make Obama look like guilty as charged.

    May 16, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  7. shirley

    We all want to pull American out of the mess Bush and his cronies will be leaving, we all want peace, jobs and a better world for our children and grandchildren. We are more alike than we are different so please let's quit the name calling and dividing ourselves into liberal and conservative, that only plays into the hands of corrupt politicians. We won't all vote for the same candidate but we will all vote for the candidate we think will serve America best.

    May 16, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Remi

    Kay ,Nm just be quiet, you have nothing to say. Don't hate, be fair play. Your candidate lost, come with us to beat McCain, or if you don't want , go over side. We will still win in November, and you will loose again....

    May 16, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. Doug R.

    Just like this Mr. Bush, McCain is a liar and a fraud. He's a flip flopping on issues all the time. One day he says this, the next day he tells you that. He's being hypocritical and dishonest. He needs to be challenged on the lies he has been spewing out. I remember him making these statement regarding Hamas and Iran, so who is he trying to fool. Don't insult me Mr. McCain.

    May 16, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. jBiden in DE

    Interesting that the right HATES McCain and won't vote for him.

    The left is split and one group prefers voting McCain than voting the other Dem..

    Just incredible. An election with 3 unwanted candidates.

    May 16, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Momma for Obama

    Remember, she started all of this, she opened the door from day one insulting and lying about Obama, so now she is trying to be nice, since she has not a chance not only to the presidential nomination but she knows she totally ruined even her possible book sales..

    the republicans know that if she attacked him, the way she did, they only have to follow and complete what she started..

    that is why i said, if Obama can stand to the clintons and overcome them then he will be ok with anyone else............ remember, the biggest political machine is the clinton machine... they are awful..
    even bush would not mess up with them, as they have dirt on everyone, and if they dont they will make it up.(digg it up)

    May 16, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Tony - DC

    Why so surprised. McCain is a Republican. They ALL LIE!

    May 16, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |

    ON TV


    May 16, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Ted van Tol

    to GOP rules

    Who ever you are,

    Sweat dreams! Obama will McCain look like a joker when he
    debates with him.
    America dont need people like you enymore.
    Hate and fear are over! It's time for peace now!

    Obama 2008

    May 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. P.A. VOTER

    Note the DEMS will no longer fall for the BANANA IN THE TAIL PIPE routine. DEMOCRATS UNITE 08

    May 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. mildred

    Lying Old Fart!!! Or did he forget?
    OBAMA 08

    May 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. karen from philly

    yes of course McCain flip-flops. He is the worst liar of all. He just said 100yrs of war now he changed it. he is really selling his soul for the presidency and it's not worth that.

    May 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. mitchell from arkansaw


    May 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Debbie,NJ

    To oh my. Get over it. The people have voted. She lost. Even she is ready to move on.

    May 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Tony - DC

    McCain a flip-flopper! Alert the media!

    Hello, anyone out there! And this is news how? Republicans are the party of deceivers, flip-floppers, liars and cheaters.

    Give us some real news!

    May 16, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. D.Kimbro OHIO

    I think this is a no-brainer. When you see a liar call them out. By the way since there seems to be republicans in our midst, if you think for one second Mrs. Obama will get attacked, and no one bring up the misdeeds of Mrs. McCain. Check out her tenure with the Red Cross in Arizona, or atleast the end of it. Come Get SOME!!!

    May 16, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Jeanne

    They don't call it the double-talk express for nothing. McCain needs to decide who he wants to represent and act accordingly. If he wants to appease the conservatives then be a conservative, if he wants moderates then be a moderate. Trying to appease both is making him look wishy-washy and a hypocrit.

    May 16, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Hillary supporters make me laugh....its like they either don't see her "misspeaks" or choose to ignore? She takes different positions on the same subject...yet....thats ignored too?? She claims to have "experience" – yet documents released show her doing the job of the first lady – not of the president?? She was under imaginary sniper fire....and then was not?? She is "tough" and "veracious" – yet when polls show her behind – she cries?? I confront both Hillary supporters I know with this....and they both answer in the exact same cult-like manner "we need a woman in the White House" – can you imagine if I stated that my support for Obama was based on his gender as well....I would be thought of as an idiot...and rightly so

    May 16, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. Tony Z- MD

    Good Job! Hillary, we are finally coming together.

    May 16, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. marek

    I really think McCain does not remember from day to day, there is no other explanation of what comes out of his mouth at times.

    May 16, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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