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. REG in AZ

    This stuff should never be an issue but McCain-Palin are desperate as they have nothing to offer that isn't just more of the same, so they do aggressively try to distract. The full context and with the full circumstances noted will always bring these things to be understood as just feeble attempts to discredit and distract but that takes time away from the issues that tell the real story. Get real McCain; come up with something that addresses the issues of major concern to the voters, something that could give the voters hope that you could possibly offer other than just more of the same.

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Laverne

    Everytime McCain tries another pathetic attempt at discrediting Obama, I lose more and more respect for McCain. With all the problems in the world, this guy still have not articulated to the American people why we should vote for him vs Obama. It is depressing to think that McCain could be POTUS. He is Sarah Palin are disgusting and shameful with their devisive politics.

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Jeff


    I think your strategy of having a plumber as a political advisor to the public is stronger.

    Oh, I guess that was inappropriate as well.

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. John from LA

    Amazing that all the bots-always counter an argument without answering the question...which is-let the tape be released and let the chips fall where they may

    Where has Democracy gone?????-If BO gets in-then there's more where this came from

    Most of BO's supporters have never seen what happens when you hide something in politics-the truth is like cream-it ALWAYS comes to the top-and hey-if there's nothing there than so be it!

    But bots please stop the silly nonsense of always countering with "Well McCain did this or that"-you see you already then lost the argument!

    Hope CNN will post this!

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Janice

    Release it Now , Americans have a right to know if there is controversy or not. Can one paper really pull off something like this and get by with it. Who is in charge of this? Bias at the least, failing to do what is fair is called cheating.

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Al

    I blast McCain for ties to Palin: an ignorant extremist, very dangerous for our country.

    I also blast Palin for ties to McCain: he is as dangerous as Bush, plus bad temper!

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Liberated!


    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Dee

    @ROB..Who is BARRACK? Learn to spell his name correctly if you want to throw insults around...

    and McCain was chairman of a group that gave this man MONEY..he shouldn't bring up ties when his hands are just as involved as BARACK OBAMA's...(notice how I spelled his name Rob)....

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. AJ from Austin Tx

    Come on. Does anyone REALLY think the L.A. Times is going to release this tape and possibly hurt the Messiah's campaign? Especially so close to the election? There is a double standard, though. If someone had secret footage of McCain kicking his dog, you can bet all the liberal media outlets would have done a timed release of the footage.

    Defeat Socialism,
    vote McCain!

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. Republican for O

    I used to have a lot of respect for Mccain. I thought he would introduce a better kind of politics to America. I actually feel hurt by the way he has run his campaign. I hoped that Obama would not strike back but I guess he thought he would lose if he did not respond to Mccain in kind. This election was supposed to be about bringing the country together. Instead, this country is more divided than ever before. Mccain should be ashamed about introducing the status quo politics into this race instead of fighting for the higher road. Do Americans deserve this? Everyday people wake up, get ready for work quickly, rush to take the kids to school and meet their boss' deadlines. If ordinary Americans struggle so much for what is right then why can't our politiicians do the same.

    Vote for Change to Save America. This may be the last opportunity to do so.

    October 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. W. Paul

    At at time when our country is being battered by joblessness and economic uncertainity, when people are being laid of, Mr. McCain is all of a sudden worried about Israel! Israel does not need our support. Israel was there before the formation of USA and will be there even after USA (ref. Bible). No enemy of the Jews or Israel will prosper. There is an Ultimate Bank Heist going on in our country and the looters are... you guessed it! Bankers! Please, please don't bringup one more muslim name and other terrorists to scare up votes. At the end of this near economic catastrope, we will implode ourselves if we do not keep our eye on the ball. Also, for all nitwits who do not know the difference: all Arabs are not Muslims. There are a ton of Christian Arabs. And all Muslims are not Arabs, there are Persians (Iranians) who are muslim too. I know our educational system has not done us any good by only teaching us about USA and Europe. Please learn about other countries. Why? Like it or not the jobs have already been shipped over there and you better learn more than one language so you too can get a job, overseas.

    October 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Josie Pilgrim

    Personally, I find political discourse by both McCain and Palin inching, tedious and offensive to my sense of intellectual pollution, but then again I should remember that their sales pitch is largely to the educationally subnormal crowd. It would have been great if this supposedly honourable man, a war hero, had tried to elevate the level of discussion by focusing, like Clinton once said, "like a laser beam" on the issues of poverty, homelessnes, a national health insurance disgrace, an educational system that gobbles up more money than any other country but still manages to produce a disproportionate number of cretins, and the rape of decent hardworking people by the greedy corporate executives.

    October 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. gl, Pittsburgh

    I think McCain needs to lay down in die already!

    October 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. John Smith

    Frankly, I am surprised that the name– MONICA Lewinsky- has not come up yet. Bill is close to Obama, therefore, Obama is close to Monica L. Conclusion: Obama, unlike McCain, has cheated on his wife!!! What a great Christian attitude to loving thy neighbour as thyself!

    October 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. peter, ct

    This is pathetic. They were both professors at the same school. How many people have gone to a farewell party for someone at work? How many people are you cordial with at work, but would never invite to dinner? WHY IS EVERYONE OBAMA KNOWS SUDDENLY REFLECTIVE OF HIS POLICIES?!? How many crooks work in congress? how many years has McCain been working there? Therefore, McCain must be a crook! EGADS, he's friends with criminals! While your at it McCain, why not subpoena the records of the LA Times, Khalidi's phone records, Obama's phone records, and everyone in attendance at the farewell party... there must be some terrorist plot brewing! I mean what self-respecting, freedom-loving American would ever disagree with their government? This is sick!

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. Roger in Virginia

    Anonymous October 29th, 2008 3:11 pm ET

    Here we go again. Instead of spending the last of his money and time trying to make the american people understand his policies and what he really plans to do for americans and how to get there he will spend it slandering Barack Obama. That has been his message this whole time. I don't have any answers on how to handle your problems so let me destroy the only candidate that can help you. And in order to accomplish this let me pick this emotinally screwed up, spiritually misguided Gov. of Alaska to help me out. Good Luck John "Boy".

    Dont know who posted this but it is correct. It is pitiful of McCain to continue to try to scare people. Its his last best hope I suppose. Whats even more astounding is that McCain supported and gave money to Khalidi. This man is so desperate he will try anything. We dont know what this video shows but McCain and Palin are painting it as something that will harm Obama. They still havent told the American public how they will deal with all the problems facing our country.

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Lynda

    At first I was going to vote for McCain. Now I am ashamed of my party after McCain and Palin became so low down. I voted early for Obama.

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. Noah

    The Keating 5 scandal is fully known and has been out in the open for 20 years. McCAin was cleared of all wrongdoing. The only thing that was said is he used poor judgement but he had nothing to do with any of the wrong that was committed. If it were more serious the Obama campaign would be using it, but they cannot. That should tell you everything. Stop trying to equate the Keating 5 scandal, that McCAin had little to do with, to all of the radical relationships Obama has made in the past. They are not even close.

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. crystal


    And so sad for a man who I used to respect, but now I cannot. You have sold your soul to the devil to win this election and even the devil is tired of you.

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. OH

    What about the "Black" child McCain fathered? Yes, the same one Bush slamed him on in 2000.

    See what I mean? Bush used garbage to win in 2000 and now McCain is doing the same thing.

    John McCain, I have news for you; this election will not be like 2000 or 2004. This election will turn the page of time and the GOP is doomed.

    Red states are turning blue and the Tsunami that begings on the East coast on November 4th. will not end until it reach the West coast.

    There will be a sea of blue and very little red. You can take that to the bank and earn interest on it as well.

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  21. Bridgette-PA

    "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"

    HMMMMM.....won't work McSame! Not this time!

    OBAMA/BIDEN -08!

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. Roman-Roselle, IL

    Does McCain ever ever talk about the issues? Instead of working on a good economic package that he can sell to the public to give him an edge in this election he obviously decided that spending the little time he has left on digging up dirt and slinging mud, which seems to be the whole of his campaign. He truly has nothing to offer us! Thank God for early voting! Solid as Barack!

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. Matt: honestly

    XENOPHOBIA is exactly what McCain is counting on. People's ignorance is amazing when it comes to other cultures. It is exactly right that just because you talk with someone, you don't have to agree politically, morally, or phylosophically. Bottom line.....WHO CARES WHO OBAMA HAD LUNCH WITH????? WHERE ARE THE ISSUES MCCAIN???

    October 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. joan

    More of the McCain insane campaign!!!

    Get this over with...turn the clock ahead...

    I will be so glad to see old McCain and his Mcidiot off the TV screen!


    October 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  25. bill

    just another of mccain palens SICK campaign stunts.someone asked why bush didnt campaign for mccain.duh he is the same old tired liar as bush. SOOO SICK OF MCBUSH PALEN.aint it over yet

    October 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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