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. Will Palin Davis

    Referring to the polling company used in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1990s and hired by IRI, the nonprofit, nonpartisan democratic advocacy organization s overseen by Congress, the McCain camp said Vietor's allegation doesn't compare.

    "Funding polling by a relatively well-respected organization that may or may not have had Khalidi on its board at the time does not come close to equating to hours of dinnertime conversations and glowing testimonials at a farewell dinner," retorted McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb.

    October 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. gl, Pittsburgh

    How about your running mate connection with ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY.

    October 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. heidi b

    THEN, Why are you all afraid of RELEASING THE TAPES???

    October 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. thomas

    Isn't it the duty of the NSA, the Cia and the FBI to root out and watch terrorists or is it that John McCain is a total xenophobe?

    October 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. David, Chicago, IL

    Considering how badly the Palestinians have been treated by both the Arabs and the Jews, it's amazing that people still think they are the 'enemy'. Anyone who reaches out a hand to the palestinians and the Jews to foment peace in the Middle East gets my vote. Apparently, McCain is more of the same old hate.


    October 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. David Goldman


    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Chut Pata

    "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."

    So while Obama is "Palling around with terrorists", McCain is actually "sponsoring terrorism". Maybe that should be the part of the ad as well.

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Rick

    “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

    A direct quote from Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama.

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Cammi317

    Blah, blah, blah...Obama is BLACK and we can't have him sitting in our White House as POTUS, is all they are trying to say at the end of the day. We gotcha McCain/Palin and we're trying our best to ignore you...

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. Dick

    Good grief, I don't know who's worse: Godless, unChristian Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina or Godless, unChristian, shameful McCain?

    I pray that God punishes you both for your crimes against truth and God on election day.

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. SoCal

    It's clear that the Ayers attack didn't provide any boost for McCain...

    So why are they trying to build yet another meaningless story?

    People are fed up of this stuff!

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. RD

    I'm a Jewish-American and I believe we should be concerned about the relationships of all candidates. For the sake of ALL Americans – rather than continuing to suppress details and/or accuse the Republicans of being "out of touch", why not just face the questions? Why not just tell the Los Angeles Times to release the video? If Obama is confident that he has done no wrong – then he handled himself with dignity. If he dodges these types of questions; then Jews across America should have the right to be concerned.

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Tracy G from PA- Obama08'

    We will never grow and flourish as a people until the greedy, hate induced, racist, politicla leaders are purged from power. As older folks tell me " Bad times don't last always ...joy will come in the morning" of Nov. 4th when Barack Obama is made President of the United States of America.

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. Film Professor

    Hey McCain, let's talk about your ties to Charles Keating while we're at it? Your family vacationed with this guy, he was one of your top fundraisers, and you actually WENT BEFORE a bank regulatory board to plead with them on behalf of this guy - but they knew he was a crook, and told you to "back off". And Keating's S&L went bankrupt, and cost the taxpayers 3.5 BILLION dollars!
    And you and your moose-breath sidekick have the gall to keep attacking Obama for ever attending a party with someone whose views don't totally mesh with theirs - gee, I guess you and moose-breath vet every single person who has attended all of your fundraisers. What hypocrites you two are!

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. jeff

    He reminds me of Archie Bunker....grumpy, out of touch, bitter... old man..

    How can he not know, we {Republicans and Democrats} are tired after 8 years of fear... go home old man and take your niece with you.....

    All his accomplishments as an American War Hero are being completely erased by this campaign.. pretty sad.

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Jim Doyle

    OK John! He's a terrorist! OK? Is that what you're trying to tell us? At least he's a terrorist with a plan. What's yours?

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Bigbubba

    Khalidi has been involved in Palestinian causes. 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. 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, McCain is not interested in looking too closely into the facts, because they would not serve his shrill partisan objectives.

    I have a suggestion for McCain, if he really digs down deep enough, he will come up with a Hyde Park figure who stood in constant close contact with Barack Obama and who, unlike Ayers and Khalidi, really did influence Obama’s thinking about law, government, and policy. He is to my way of thinking a genuine radical. His name is Richard Posner, and he appears to be the most frequently and positively cited judge and legal academic in… National Review.

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. Obamafied Cheesehead

    Last call, any one wants to buy "moose oil" from Alaska?

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. George

    This is funny......this news has been out for months and he is just now saying something about it? Give me a break! ANyone with half a brain can now see that the GOP is desperate...more and more by the day! They still do not talk issues and have no leg to stand on. All they can do is try to tear down someone with accusations and hope that people are dumb enough to believe and elect them again.....its pretty sad and very disgusting. I use to be a republican but am now switiching my aligence to Dem not because I support the platform but because the GOP tactics make me want to puke! They have totally ruined our party and Palin is the worst! What happended to the Moderate Republican party? Powell was right....this party is going the wrong direction and is being taken over by the religious nuts! They are just as bad as the far left Libs.....

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. FactCheck

    What about John McCain's well documented and extremely friendly relationship with a war criminal (George W. Bush) and a war profiteer (Dick Cheney)? When should that conversation come up? After all, that speaks volumes about McCain's (lack of) character.

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Let's push McCain's ties to gambling industry big wigs, tied to McCain's own gambling addiction. And the potential for McCain's quite possibly suffering from PTSD (he never released his records after his POW release) which might have him ordering the military to bomb Canada if McCain lapsed into one of his "bomb, bomb, bomb" mantras.

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. wendy

    I agree with all of those who suggest that CNN and other news organizations should report on McCain's funding of this guy. What's fair is fair.

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. Ben in San Diego

    Dishonorable diservice to our Country McCain... you will live a miserable, lonely old age...

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. AB

    If everyone looks at the polls in Arizona – the state has moved from solid retread to tossup.

    McCain won't even carry Arizona.

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Dee

    This is the same John McCain who went to Tennessee and who campaigned for the Republican candidate and destroyed the political career of Harold Ford with lies and vile advertisements. Republicans open their mouths, they put our their ads and you see their heart and it's downright scary.

    October 29, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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