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. doob

    R.I.P. GOP. Good bye and good riddance!!!

    October 29, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Kim

    I kind of liked Palin, but now I hope there is not future for her or McCain. They have devastated any little hope for the GOP.

    October 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. mms

    at least Obama didn't give them money.mccain is such an idiot.Please don't elect this man!!!

    October 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Pat


    October 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Fran

    Poor old McShame, still grasping for straws. What ever happened to running an aboard campaign. He will say anything to win.

    October 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |

    A Democat's prayer to protect them against the last ditch "fear, smear, mock and LIE" tactics of the McCain/Palin camp:

    "O Lord I pary that you save and protect me from your other evangelical Christian neocon republican followers, Amen."

    PS: And if your still listening, please look out extra good for Obama 'cause with the trash talk he's getting from the republican/fascist crazies this week he really needs it!

    October 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Kim

    Did Bush not have the Bin laudin's in the white house. Maybe he should be impeached for that one. You can't help who you have to work with. If you really want the truth we are all foreigneers. The only true americans are the native american indians

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Setys

    Senator Obama attended a dinner party with Khalidi but McCain gave him $450,000 in grants?

    Who is more connected to Khalidi?

    Vote Obama/Biden

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. CZH


    OBAMA 08

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. jmaxwell

    McCain has ties as well. Plus let's check out his advisor's connection to Georgia the Country. The Russian spokeperson hinted that there were ties to a presidential candidate and the conflict. coincidence, prehaps-yes. Come on CNN investigate this!!!!

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. Lucy

    Why don't you tell us your position on the policies, rather than run a referendum on OBAMA? Be sure to watch "That one" on tv tonight. Wink, wink.

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. PalesInComparison

    The world is laughing at you McSHAME......Please get some help...

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Craig in Washington

    And how about a tape of John McCain rubbing elbows with racists and ex-Klan members of the Senate, such as Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmand? Or John McCain rubbing elbows and contributing money to the outlaw Contra organization run by retired general Singlaub? Or how about a tape of John McCain actually discussing the issues for a change?

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. cool onlooker

    Same old, same old attacks. Desperate tactics... poor old McSame.

    Never find the right gear to sail along the campaign. Then doomed to failure.

    CNN has invited so many smart strategist for McSame, how come none of the advices went into his agenda?

    Obama'08'12; no way to nominate Palin in 2012... do not even dream of it.

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. McCain is a fool

    I am just so tired of McCain and his nonesense. This man does not have a plane and is fumbling all over the place. Is this how he is planning to run the White House? Bush Bush Bush all over again.

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Rania

    wake up and smell the koran? I am so insulted and offended by the level of bigotry against arab and muslim americans. And the Mccain and Palin campaign are feeding off of that prejudice in order to gain more votes. Disgusting!!

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. mjc

    So let me see if I have this right.......McCain funded Khalidi's Organization, embraces Watergate criminal Gordon Liddy as a friend, his Transition Chief William Timmons aided Saddam Hussein in Lobbying efforts, was involved in the Keating scandal, and continued to receive campaign contributions over the years from Keating. Sarah Palin has been found to have Ethics Violations of Abuse of Power and has more Ethic complaints filed against her in the state of Alaska....I'm sure there is much more but I don't want to bore anyone.

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. j. williams

    if this relationship was SO innocent, why doesn't the L.A. Times release the tape???they know that their candidate would lose the election...plain and simple

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Woe

    McCain had the same affiliation with the Palestinian professor. Geeze already the Alzheimers is setting in.

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Murf, Jackson, NJ

    Apparently Joe McCarthy has been reincarnated as John McCain. Someone needs to tell him that the American people will not support his "attack dog"' style of politics. Eight years ago McCain called such attacks "despicable." He was right then and sadly he is wrong now.

    McCain is a disgrace.

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. S from Virginia

    Like McCain's campaign, this is a joke, right?

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. Christian Democrat

    This is getting even more stupid!! Unbelievable. The Repubs are sounding more and more racist everyday. What's wrong with being Muslim? What's wrong with being Arab? What's wrong with being Palestinian?

    What's wrong with the Republicans?!?!?!

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. Lindsay

    Geez, can we say "McCarthyism"?

    Hey, GOP, guess what? I. DON'T. CARE.

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. JP

    Hmm! What's next? Are they going to accuse UChicago and Columbia of "palling around with terrorrists"? This is ridiculous and the reason McCain is losing...How does that help us get out of this messed up economy? To somewhat say that Obama is dangerous is ridiculous. That message will not stick because it's not helping people.

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. TCE

    And there goes the ability to voice dissenting views by vilifying freedom of speech proponents and trying to make them out as terrorists. Can't people see that this kind of fear leads to suppression? And, this is a democracy?? Give it a break McCain/Palin. Stop the ugly rhetoric! It only serves to divide our country in its pathetic attempt to secure votes. Votes for what?? Abuse of power?? I guess this kind of distortion is in its own right an ABUSE OF POWER.
    Its sickening....

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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