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

McCain pushes Obama connection to Khalidi

 McCain is calling for the release of a tape from an event attended by Barack Obama.

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. RANDY

    John McCain what about your ties with Charles Keating?

    October 29, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Len in Washington

    CNN – I certainly hope you look at these stories closely and realize that your reputation as a "true source of the news" is on the line every time you lend credence to this kind of scurrilous attack. The McCain/Palin ticket has made a different attack every day and you continue to give them free publicity for them.

    I have to wonder if you are really the "Best Political Team on Television" or simply the "Most Willing Team on Television" to stir the pot for better ratings.

    You disappoint me..........

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Linda32

    Amazing that they continue to attack Obama for basically knowing people and interacting with them. Goes to the same thing about talking with your enemies and finding common grounds. Does McCain only talk to those that agree with him? That may be why he still thinks he has a chance. This is getting very old and I can't wait for nov. 4th

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Anthony

    Oh please...

    All the republicans have had to go on this election season are smears, lies, and insults.

    Not just the campaign, but the supporters. Just read their comments here or anywhere else and you'll see a group of people disparately hurling as many insults and lies as they can fit into a paragraph.

    Obama / Biden '08

    no way, no how, no mccain.

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Pooya

    I used to hear this type of allegations thrown around by the conservative fundamentalists in IRNIAN "elections" when I lived in Iran. I guess the methods are the same everywhere!

    Dear CNN employee : what is wrong with this ?! Do you think this comparison is too off? Believe me, its not !!

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. carol

    McCain has nothing else left now so he has to bring up everybody
    Sen Obama has met in his whole life apparently.....the man is so desperate and sad!!!!
    It seems to me that McCain is acting like someone has taken his toys away and he is now acting up in rebellion......you would have thought
    that he would have had some issues to be telling the American people about!!!!
    No, he has to spend every waking minute digging up anything and everything he can find on Sen Obama and hoping that something will resonate with the American people.
    This campaign has been so disgusting run by MCain and his cronies.....there is nothing honorable about this man at all....I doubt he or Sarah Palin can have any dignity left.

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Inane in the membrane

    What about inane's connections to all sorts of shady characters in his past. One of the main reasons McInane will probably lose this election is the fact that he has chosen to not specifically speak to the people about his plan to address the issues that this country is currently facing.

    How sad.

    GObama

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. carmen

    McCain sat in the Senate with that convicted felon Stevens of Alaska, worse!

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. Bea

    This only shows that Obama is not afraid to cross lines...Obama was not in the PLO..so it shouldn't matter if they had conversations..I have heard some serious charges that Republicans have tried to connect Kenya's political crisis to Obama as a Kenyan i am not surprised that conservatives are willing to go so low\e..some of my Kenyan friends laughed so hard when we saw some of these crazy emails...Conservatives are full of it

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. kido

    I have announcement for all of you: i just used my brain, not my skin, to vote for Obama. I used common sense to that. I am not a college grad. After what they have done for us, they still want to control Washington. Don't you have common sense? don't you see our country is going in wrong direction? We are not the superpower any more because my own republicans blew it! One more time: USE COMMON SENSE IF YOU HAVE ONE!

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. skeeter

    Give it up. Enough already McCain.

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. Bruce

    Is this the same person the RNC gave money to?

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Ken Metzger

    This is ridiculous.
    First, if he was a spokesman for the PLO it would show that Obama has a lot of experience with world organizations. This is the PLO! They represent Palestine and are backed by the U.N. The comparison to neo-Nazi is ridiculous. The PLO is not a terrorist group, but a democratically elected authority. Yes, the PLO has a dirty past, but nothing past the seventies, before it entered in the UN.

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Saba

    GOP are trying to find anything to win the election. CNN, please post this comment,

    I could be a friend of some one while I have different view and value.
    Do I have to be friend of the people who looks and like me, agree with me, and speak the same language as me??

    How can we change the world, if we secluded ourselves from those who are different?
    How can we challeng them and tell them they are wrong or right if we do not talk with them??

    October 29, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. Cindy

    Since the Republicans have nothing of substance to run on...they are once again trying to illicit fear in the hearts and minds of American voters. Please don't let fear drive your vote this time around!

    October 29, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. KJOhio

    Typical McCain/McRepublicans: Spread FUD (Fear, uncertainty and doubt) – Dive and Rule...

    October 29, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. NYFN08

    John,

    Please, what are YOU running on? Enough about Obama. You are a POW, and thank you for your service to the country 40+ years ago. But you can't only run on your laurels and your opponent's tenuous-at-best connections. Remind us of what you have done in the last 26 years in Congress and what you plan to do for the country in the future. Do you really want us to vote for you based on the public character you have shown in the past few months? Because it's been a pretty sad display. You are not close to the man you used to be.

    October 29, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. kennyboon

    I am a grad student here in the US. I see more religious divided by McCain than any other leaders of the world. Besides terrorists, no other politcal leader like McCain. THis is going to ruin America is McCain and Palin elected.

    October 29, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    McCain-2008 = Dole-1996, and now we know why!!!

    October 29, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. Over and Over

    Who Cares!!!! Already voted Obama/Biden.

    October 29, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. Sue

    desperation = loss

    October 29, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Linda32

    Amazing that they continue to attack Obama for basically knowing people and interacting with them. Goes to the same thing about talking with your enemies and finding common grounds. Does McCain only talk to those that agree with him? That may be why he still thinks he has a chance. This is getting very old and I can't wait for nov. 4th

    October 29, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. dave from pa

    Go ahead McShame. When you point a finger at someone, 4 fingers are pointing back at YOU. Keep going negative. We absolutely love to see you crash and burn. Americans are fed up with your crap. Keep doing what you are doing. Can anyone say, "landslide"?? Bueller, Bueller? Sure you can!

    October 29, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Linda

    Perhaps we could also get the report that tells what happened in the John McCain1960s car wreck that killed someone - being protected by the U.S. Navy....they are not releasing it even after a FOIA

    October 29, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Kevin in Chicago

    Yet nobody's talking about Palin's ties with an organization structured to secede from the nation !?!?!?!??!??!?!?!

    October 29, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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