October 29th, 2008
01:14 PM ET
12 years ago

McCain pushes Obama connection to Khalidi

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/29/mccain6.jpg caption=" McCain is calling for the release of a tape from an event attended by Barack Obama."]
MIAMI, Florida (CNN)- In a radio interview with Radio Mambi in Miami Wednesday, Senator John McCain said that the Los Angeles Times should release a tape of an event that his opponent attended with Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi , a former University of Chicago professor now teaching at Columbia University who is alleged to have ties with the PLO.

“We should know about their relationship including, apparently, information that is held by the Los Angeles Times concerning an event that Mr. Ayers attended with a PLO spokesman. The Los Angeles Times refuses to make that videotape public. I’m not in the business about talking about media bias but what if there was a tape with John McCain with a neo-Nazi outfit being held by some media outlet. I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different.”

Khalidi has denied being a part of the PLO, saying that between 1976 and 1983 — the period critics have alleged he worked for the organization - he was a full time assistant professor at the American University of Beirut, a fellow at the Institue of Palestine Studies and author of two books and had no time for anything else.

McCain’s radio interview comes a day after the McCain campaign accused the Los Angeles Times of supressing a videotape of a 2003 banquet that then state Senator Barack Obama along with Ayers and Khalidi, and where Obama talked about his friendship with the Palestinian scholar.

"A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi," said McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb. "The election is one week away, and it's unfortunate that the press so obviously favors Barack Obama that this campaign must publicly request that the Los Angeles Times do its job - make information public."

The paper was the first to report on the relationship between Obama and Khalidi in an April 2008 story - titled “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama” - about the Illinois senator’s ties with the Palestinian and Jewish communities in Chicago and detailed the 2003 event, which was a farewell dinner for Khalidi, who was leaving Chicago to take a job in New York.

"The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it," said the newspaper's editor, Russ Stanton.

Khalidi himself said in an e-mailed statement that he was “not speaking to the media at this time, and certainly not until this idiot wind passes.” He also directed reporters to a post on the Harper’s magazine Web site that he said “has some details re a few of the stupider, and more ignorant things said about me.”

Obama was asked about his relationship with Khalidi in May at a town hall with Jewish voters.
“I do know him because I taught at the University of Chicago,” Obama said. “And he is a Palestinian. And I do know him and I have had conversations. He is not one of my advisors; he’s not one of my foreign policy people. His kids went to the Lab school where my kids go as well. He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel’s policy.”

“To pluck out one person who I know and who I’ve had a conversation with who has very different views than 900 of my friends and then to suggest that somehow that shows that maybe I’m not sufficiently pro-Israel, I think, is a very problematic stand to take,” Obama said. “so we got to be careful about guilt by association.”

And while McCain might not have known Khalidi personally, he has ties to the Palestinian as well. During the 1990s, while McCain served as chairman of the International Republican Institute, the group gave grant money to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi.

Florida, with its 27 electoral votes, is a crucial battleground for McCain. Jewish voters comprise 5 percent of the electorate in the state.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (1,005 Responses)
  1. Scott in Atlanta

    I think he talks about Obama more than he doesn himself. This can't be a winning formula...

    October 29, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. FactCheck

    So Obama attended a dinner party with Khalidi but McCain gave him $450,000 in grants? John, please get some professional help.

    October 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. TyWebb

    What about McCain's connection to Palin?

    October 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. hurriCAIN PALIN

    do what you can to defeat the false prophet messiah saviour. nobama cannot and will not bring change and hope, cant believe he suckered all you nobama democrats.

    MCCAIN/PALIN '08-'16


    October 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. d jones

    Mcliar gave money to the professor...... What a moron!!!

    October 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. John

    Give it a rest, Pops.

    October 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. UCLAdy04

    Do Palestinian Americans not have the right to live in peace in America? This man was an esteemed professor and there is supposedly something wrong with Obama having known him? If that is the case then why did McCain approve hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for projects the professor was involved in?

    October 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Nina


    October 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Jim Schimmer



    our country is at risk... Vote early, vote obama!! Please go.


    CNN – Please post this!! Please...

    October 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. Sam

    This is so stupid....please Mccain go away and take Ms Palin with you. We don't want to see you again.

    October 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. UCLAdy04

    I would also like to add that AGAIN today the McCain camp is not saying anything about the economy. The economy is in shambles, jobs are being lost, homes foreclosed on, more people going without health care, and two wars overseas...yet they want to harp on a going away party held for this man in 2003?!?!?!??!?! Are you kidding me? Get a life McCain and Palin!

    October 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Greg FL.

    McCain gave 500k to the very same guy, so what is the problem?

    October 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. Ms. Jenny

    McCain Funded Work Of Palestinian His Campaign Hopes To Tie To Obama

    Ooops! Looks like McCain is the dirty one here.

    NOTE TO VOTERS: If, in the last few days before an election, you learn that a candidate used to play poker with Satan on the weekends, or that he/she voted 200 times against puppies and rainbows – IT'S A LIE! There is a reason this crap only comes out at the absolute last minute....

    October 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. rich

    more lies from mccain
    mccain FUNDED this guy. that should be the lead of this NON story
    so is mccain saying he has Questionable ties?
    get a life mccain out of politics

    October 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Carolyn

    As someone who six months ago was going to vote for McCain, I have lost ALL respect for him.

    McCain, you have a run a despicable, dishonorable campaign and would be a horrible representative for the United States.

    October 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. AmyO

    If McCain wants to make this argument he should be forthcoming about his own relationship, which is just about as significant as Obamas.

    The harpers article by Scott Horton says it best:
    In a sense, Khalidi’s formula for solving the Middle East crisis has not been radically different from George W. Bush’s: both believe in American values and approaches. However, whereas Bush believes these values can be introduced in the wake of bombs and at the barrel of a gun, Khalidi disagrees. He sees education and civic activism as the path to success, and he argues that pervasive military interventionism has historically undermined the Middle East and will continue to do so. Khalidi has also been one of the most articulate critics of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority—calling them repeatedly on their anti-democratic tendencies and their betrayals of their own principles. Khalidi is also a Palestinian American.

    Of course, Khalidi has been involved in Palestinian causes. McCarthy ought to ask John McCain about that, because McCain and Khalidi appear to have some joint interests, and that fact speaks very well of both of them. Indeed, the McCain–Khalidi connections are more substantial than the phony Obama–Khalidi connections McCarthy gussies up for his article. The Republican party’s congressionally funded international-networking organization, the International Republican Institute–long and ably chaired by John McCain and headed by McCain’s close friend, the capable Lorne Craner–has taken an interest in West Bank matters. IRI funded an ambitious project, called the Palestine Center, that Khalidi helped to support. Khalidi served on the Center’s board of directors. The goal of that project, shared by Khalidi and McCain, was the promotion of civic consciousness and engagement and the development of democratic values in the West Bank. Of course, McCarthy is not interested in looking too closely into the facts, because they would not serve his shrill partisan objectives.


    October 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. Rob

    Obama's list gets longer and longer but it seems that noone really cares...

    October 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. John

    You are sad. Anyone that does not agree with you is either:

    1. Incorrect.
    2. Lying by hiding the truth.
    3. Biased against you.

    Talk about things that matter, old man. You say he was PLO. It is not like you have been truthful in this campaign. You fart inaccuracies.

    October 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Spencer/VIRGINIA

    Senator Obama is not a terrorist john McLame. Stop trying to put fear into people's mind.


    October 29, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. KLEE

    an open mind brings in wisdom – shut all the doors and the light will not shine in. the world is a very different place than 20 – 30 years ago – believe me. if we don't grow and learn lessons from the past we will go nowhere and go only backwards fast.

    October 29, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Mi Ho

    If you are a proud American, Please announce to the world
    how proud you are of President Bush. How proud you are of how you
    voted for Bush the last two times. How proud you are to vote for McCain because you know what is smartest for this country. How YOUR advice of who to vote for or against is smarter than any others. If you voted for BUSH before please tell us all how to vote this time because you know what it best for the country!!

    October 29, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Lee in CA

    Obama should give McCain some of the 150 million he made this month, maybe then he would see how it feels when someone spreads your wealth around.

    October 29, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. President Barack Obama

    Nope, this WON"T stick either….. Back to LYING BOARD. Give It Up!!!




    Barack Your Vote08!!!!
    Barack Obama….Intelligent Leadership!!!!!

    October 29, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Michael

    Oops! McShame, haven't we seen plenty of video clips of Bush, Cheney, and Condi, "palling around" with the president of the Palestine authority (who also happens to be head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization)? Shaking hands (naughty naughty), donating tens of millions of dollars of tax-payers' money (even naughtier!), and partying with them at various functions (will we ever survive?), and even welcoming him and his aids to the White House? And you voted with W 92% of the time. Oh yes, and all the while promising moral support for a Palestinian state. John and Sarah, you might want to read up on the Pharisees, whitewashed sepulchers full of dead men's bones. Sorry that your campaign has come down to nothing more than that.

    October 29, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Nicole

    McCain has lost his last marble. This ought to do him in.

    October 29, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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