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. Corey Gabriel

    Typical McCain/Palin nonsense...they've got nothing to run on except fear and smear of Obama. McCain/Palin keep talking about "fighting" for you, ruffling feathers, reforming Washington, taking on the good old boys, energy independenc, growing the economy and opportunity, etc, but they have yet to specify any of the ways they intend to do those things. Talk is cheap and that's all they have, plus of course, lies, distortions, smears and fear. Thank God this will be over for them, and us next week.

    October 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Nathan from Washington State

    This is just Sad.
    I have seen some pretty desparate things in campaigns before but this is just.....Sad.
    What little respect I had left for you is now gone.

    October 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. MPS

    The hissing sound in the background is the last vestige of respect I had for John McCain evaporating from into the suck-hole of Politics-As- Usual. It is truly sad that he believes the depths he has sunk to are helping him and not the exact cause of his being behind in the polls.

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. MEP

    What about his own connection? I s he going to push that too?

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. John McCain - Clean up your act

    All of you – Who have had Enough of the Side-tracking, Avoid the issues, Slanderous, Lies from John McCain............SHOW HIM on
    Election Day. Enough is Enough. Election Day can't get here fast enough. On November 5th – I hope to bid farewell to John McCain going back to the Old Folks Retirement Home and Sarah Palin back to Alaska.................SEE YA!

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. Doug

    so...to get this right....now our top universities are harboring terrorists? McCain....seriously you sink lower and lower everyday. You sound more communist than obama does socialist.

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |

    That last few sentences in this commentary said it all...

    McCain you can't even remember that you chaired the committee that gave Khalidi's foundation a grant...

    Maybe you have been around too long. Maybe you should retire in one of your 13 homes and take a break, this running for President think isn't your cup of tea...have a beer on your in-laws...I'm sure they have plenty to spare.

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Bob from NC

    Help me Jesus. I'm the McCain-Palin ticket and I'm drowning. I'll take anything and anybody I can get my hands on down with me. Even if I have to sell my soul to do it.

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Annie

    As a young, black female that attends an "elite" institution...I am tired of the McCain campaign implying that I am no longer American or understand America. That somehow, no matter my educational attainment, no matter where I come from– I am just decidedly un-American. I am also upset over the xenophobic rhetoric that Palin and McCain spew at their rallies. Since when was it wrong to listen or talk to someone with a differing view point than mine?

    This whole thing reeks of McCarthyism to me and the country had enough of it in the 50s and 60s and I hope to God we get over this now!!

    Alright cast my absentee vote in favor of Obama!

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. pat C.


    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Vote McCain

    Re-sent due to missed spell.

    Why again????????? Attack Obama. I voted for them but I don't like when they attack Obama. They're losing because of that. Are they stupid or what??????

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Becky CA

    Stop demonizing people. Tell me why Prof.Khalidi should not have the views he has. He is of Palestinian descent and obviously wants a better future for them. Israel-Palestine issue is complicated. That is why these Republicans should not win the Presidency. They try to make everything black and white. It is not us vs them. Both sides have legitimate arguments. Please, STOP DEMONIZING people to get a few votes.

    October 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Pathetic Republican

    I'm a narrow-minded one issue voter living in some town you never heard of, in a state you'd never drive through. I say things like NOBAMA and false prophet and believe everything they say about his ties to radical godless Marxist tax raising aliens. I'd write more, but I gotta brush my tooth.

    October 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. v.ananthan




    McCain / Palin 08-

    October 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. douglas in minnesota

    The Khalidi thing is just another calamity-of-the-day that McCain is trying to conjure-up. Another attempt to deflect American attention away from the economy. I'm sure this story will be spun as another muslim-marxist-terrorist-un-American-far left wing-liberal-radical conspiracy that proves the very foundations of our democratic society are about to be shattered by the Bolshevik hoardes. McCain is looking more and more like Muhammed Saheed al-Sahaf (you know, the incredibly stupid Iraqi Information Minister that "triple-guaranteed " that US forces were nowhere near Baghdad, when US tanks could clearly be seen in the back ground. John, you're looking more and more idiotic each day.

    October 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. Misty

    Desperate Mavericks!! Down with McCain Garbage– Please CNN do not give these good for nothing people the time of day–
    Both Ayers and Khalidi are Professors– I am a professor– do I talk to the other faculty– Yes!! do I know where they have been –No!! We in the university do not talk about which groups they belonged to 15-25 years ago or- what colr underwears they wear or have their phone tapped (as the Bush administration id doing).

    Please!! Quit this nonsense McCain and Palin and concede defeat...


    October 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. H. Charles

    To McCain/Palin supporters:

    Don't you want to know what your candidates policies are?? He's not giving you much to work with and I feel very sorry for you. Hopefully the next 4 years is good to you regardless of who wins because we all deserve better than what you've gotten out of this guy.

    October 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. Billy


    Gov Palin is hiding her past medical records because they show she is CLINICALLY DEPRESSED!

    Even though Palin promised to release her medical records and the McCain campaign said they would be released early this week, her records are still being hid by the campaign. McCain is asking voters to gamble on his VP choice without knowing her past medications and conditions.


    October 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. JACK

    John is grasping for the last straw. It's over.

    October 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. chris s

    Why aren't more Americans aware that John Mc Cain is NOT a war hero. The facts are actually quite to the contrary. John Mc Cain was offered an early release from his VC captors AFTER recording more than 30 anti-american propaganda audio tapes. He refused to leave the camp early because he knew he'd be labeled a traitor at home and have no future in America with a nick name like "Hanoi John" – which is what he was called. The REAL McCain as it turns out is actually a coward!

    October 29, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Rita

    Well that's it, Obama and Khalidi taught at the same University and their children go to the same school, then OBAMA must be a member of the PLO! Remarkable, can the GOP get any more desperate or stupid?

    I believe OBAMA lives on the same planet as several terrorists groups, WOW, he must be a terrorist!

    Grow up.

    October 29, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. Mickey

    Do these fools think ANYONE who supports Obama is listening; even Independents can see what McCain/Palin is doing.

    It's been said before – Throw a bunch of sleazy stuff against the wall and see if anything sticks.

    This is not like 2000, 2004 – we know enough about Barack – we know WHO HE IS...


    October 29, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Kingston

    Palin hurt the Republican ticket. Her and Karl Rove.

    October 29, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. Essay

    If you want to question relationships, do some research on G. Gordon Liddy (convicted of fraud), Cindy McCain (fraudently obtained prescription drugs), Charles Keating (convicted of fraud), Ted Stevens (convicted of failing to report gifts) and others. Geez, most of the McCain campaign's closest pals are either convicted felons or should be. Has McCain or Palin addressed this circumstance?

    October 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. ObamaVolunteer

    Project for a New American Century, PNAC; Google it. McCain and many others (karl rove, dick cheney) they are neocons.

    October 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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