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. Molly

    McCain headed an organization that gave this guy almost $1million so who really cares. The old man is grasping at straws!

    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. RSB

    Why does he keep pointing out things that he himself has been involved with? I used to feel sorry for McCain and blame his campaign for all the negativity but really, how stupid is he?

    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. MN Blue

    So they McCain gives money, Palin "pals around" with convicted felons from Alaska, and only Obama needs to answer why he is toasting a man with Palestinian ties? What happen to loving your neighbor, conservative Christians? I'm sure a lot of us knowingly and unknowingly have questionable relationships in our past. I want a leader the world will stop laughing at!


    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. SDW

    Poor McShame! Maybe if you ACTUALLY talked about how you will help the American people out of this mess, maybe someone other than the racists of America will listen. People take a look at their rally's. There's no diversity and why is that?? Because his message is not inclusive! He's against Muslims and Palestinians. He forgets that we have American citizens in this country who are of the Muslim faith and who are Palestinians. How do you think they feel when you constantly talk about them the way that you do. Believe me, if he could get away with it, Jews would be lumped into this mess, as well.

    Whenever I see him, I'm reminded of that Diana Ross song from Mahognay . . . Do you know where you're going to, do you like the things that life is showing you . . . where are you going to. . . . do you know? Poor thing!

    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Landy

    McCain is playing his last card and I am afraid that he will finish this race without a shred of dignity. I was undicided but McCain makes decide today. I am sick and tired of those attacks from someone like McCain.

    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. al

    Listen, Noone seems to understand that suppression of the truth is the problem. Whatever that truth is? There may not be anything but some people having dinner at a party. Then again the tape may show alot of off color jokes at the jewish peoples expense with Barack laughing. None of which is the point. The point that is being missed is all too often when someon looks into Barack's past the door gets slammed shut by whomever. Does noone on this board see an issue with that? I didn't know we wanted to live in a communist state.

    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Stansteader


    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. nerakami

    John McCain... you are despicable ... fight like a man... issue to issue
    and stop acting like some whimpering coward.... hitting and running.

    October 29, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. jaye

    These attacks are so tired! McCain is making a complete fool of himself.

    October 29, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. John McCain JUST DOESN'T GET IT

    Are ALL GOP Candidates this DESPERATE?

    What happened to "COUNTRY FIRST"......... John you seem really "SELF SERVING" to me. You need to re-evaluate.

    October 29, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. Independent Voter

    So I guess in this country we are not free to have Palenstinian friends? I guess NYC is a communist part of America because their is loads of diversity there.

    October 29, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Debbie in Missouri

    McCain, Enough of the lies already.

    You can not scare me. We do not trust YOU now.

    Time to retire.

    October 29, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. curtis

    Palin complains of 30 years of failed policy today in her energy speech. Barack reminded her that McCain has been there for 27 of those years. Brilliant! All of those failed policies and failed government that McCain brings up he was front and center in creating the mess.

    Sarah Palin is the best thing that could have happened to the Democratic Party.

    October 29, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. thale

    Really disappointed that CNN failed to add that The International Republican Institue, an organization in which John McCain was the chairman, gave Khalidi $838,494 dollars in grants over a two year period. Every other news organization covering this story included it when they covered it. I thought you were fair and unbiased!!!! If you are going to feature a story, tell us everything and then let the reader decide. McCain is desperate, causing a racial divide, and running a negative campaign. I hope on November 5th, after Obama wins, he finds himself again. He is certainly not the same John McCain we knew in 2008.

    October 29, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Brad

    hurriCAIN PALIN –

    You are the problem with the USA

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

    Really – does John McCain want to go there .... He gave the guy almost 450.00 in funding.... this ticket is not even smart or competent enough to pull off McCarthy like lies and accusations. Very sad for our country...I hope the Republicans can re-build their party with some honor and integrity.

    October 29, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Lynette

    Let us stand together on November 4th and elect Barack Obama. His message of unity and peace is much better than division and hate, and no the Arabs are not the devil, instead we are turning out to be.

    October 29, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. Independent







    October 29, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. Diana Ewing NJ

    John McCain should not even hold his senate seat.. after this campaign.....He has no standards..HE IS NO HERO AS IT IS PROCLAIMED. I have Lost ALL respect for him.

    October 29, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. ran

    No No No. Nov 5 can't get here fast enough.

    People vote for Obama/Biden before Nov. 4th if you can but by then if not..

    We need our country back from the hate/fear/racist Republicans.

    October 29, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. karen

    this is a new low for the mccain/palin ticket....just let america know how much lower john/sarah enough already let sarah give her views on foreign policies, and the economy if she can handle that!! oh wait i forgot she doesn't know...

    October 29, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. BK

    Now you're just making things up. Its so easy to do with days left and no time for people to call you on it. Its the same thing that happened with swift boat, which we found out was paid off by Bush but only after the election was over.

    October 29, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. Undecided

    I have yet to decide on who I will vote for in this election, but with all the lies that have been said by the McCain party and then exposed by the media has made me lean more and more towards Obama/Biden. I have my concerns about Obama/Biden as well but seems to me that when McCain has been asked a question he starts with a bash on Obama, I don't think I have heard him answer a question about the issues we Americans are concerned with without a bad comment or statement against Obama.

    Palin scares me I can not see this woman as our VP. She has her own agenda which concerns me greatly. I am tired of hearing McCain say one thing then turn around and say something different. We need a strong president who will not be so wishy washy on his stance on issues in this country.

    I have also been looking at Nadar, I have yet to hear anything on the news about his stance on the issues, I haven't seen anyone even consider debating with him.

    I have many concerns this election is important in many aspects for this country. We ALL need to get out and Vote!!!

    October 29, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Linda K.

    Khalidi has studied and written books on the plight of the Palestinian people. Many sympathize with the Palestinians, including some Christians and Jews. And, at any rate, his ties with the PLO are "alleged."

    This country used to believe in innocent until proven guilty. That was before Bush became president.

    October 29, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. Michelle

    Let me get this straignt. So Obama has had a conversation with this guy, and John McCain has given his organization over half a million dollars in grants.... but Obama is the one accused of being a terrorist?

    It only makes sense if you're a hate-mongering republican.

    October 29, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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