McCain says monkey business on Twitter just a joke
February 4th, 2013
12:15 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain says monkey business on Twitter just a joke

(CNN) – After catching some flak for slyly calling Iran's president a monkey on Twitter Monday, Sen. John McCain wondered what the fuss was about.


That was after he took this swipe at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said Monday he wants to be the first Iranian astronaut in space.


That prompted backlash on Twitter, including from Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican.


McCain was linking to an article from last week on Iran's attempt to launch a primate into space. According to official Iranian news reports, the monkey was strapped snugly into a Pishgam (or Pioneer) rocket and launched 120 kilometers (75 miles) into the sky on Monday.

Iran said the move represented its latest bid to join the space race, though Iran's foes fear the real aim may be to test missile launching capabilities for less peaceful purposes.

The monkey returned back to Earth sometime later, looking shell-shocked but alive as a crowd of men along the desert ground rejoiced, video from state-run Press TV showed.

Since then, media reports have cast doubt on Iran's version of their launch, citing two different photos of the monkey that was purportedly blasted into space.

McCain has never been shy about his opposition to Iran's regime, often using jokes. During his 2008 bid for president, he memorably changed the lyrics to "Barbara Ann" to "Bomb Iran" during a campaign appearance.

CNN's Greg Botelho and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Iran • John McCain
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. qularknoo

    how is it racist ... if you believe in races (White, Asian, Black) ... how was McCain being racist by calling another male a monkey?

    February 4, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  2. SFRich

    I agree. The man does resemble a monkey (he's always reminded me of Curious George, just not as cute). I can't see anywhere in McCain's tweet where he said that Iranians or anyone else of middle eastern descent are monkeys.

    I'm not at all a fan of McCain, his politics, or especially his judgement, but I have to give him credit for his sense of humor. After all, Ahmadinejad IS a joke in the overall scheme of things. Was the tweet appropriate for a US Senator to make? No, perhaps not. But I can't agree with calling it racist.

    February 4, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Just ignore this senile dude. At that age brain will not function. You are excused. Stay in the sun-room.

    February 4, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    A major, prominent, powerful and influential "leader" who was actually in the running to become the president of our country, which has a military budget larger than the next 20+ countries COMBINED, mouths off like this and you wonder why these people think they need nukes? Why they might be somewhat justified in thinking "oh crap, look what they did to Iraq and we're obviously next on their agenda"? Right.

    I'll say it again: the ONLY thing that will stop Iran from eventually developing nukes is getting them to stop WANTING to develop nukes. Fat chance of that happening while people like Songbird McMouth are allowed to speak on behalf of our country.

    February 4, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Vincent

    Not a fan of McCain but, this is just idìótic. How was that racist? He called him a Get a grip, people.

    February 4, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  6. California Gary

    I haven't cut McCain much slack lately, not after that joke he played on America by naming Palin as his running mate.....but I have to give him a pass on this one. I'm fine with anyone that wants to make a monkey out of the Iranian nut job.

    February 4, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. James

    How is calling that nut job in Iran a monkey racist?.

    February 4, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. Sly

    He was just joking, kinda like Osama Bin Laden joked about 'flying Casper the friendly ghost' when watching video of Americans jumping to their deaths after 9/11.

    That was a funny joke also, right?

    February 4, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. Babyboomer

    It's time for him to go. Last thing this country needs is a US Senator antagonizing the leader of a country who would like nothing more than a war with us. On any normal job, he would have been forced to retire a long time ago.

    February 4, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  10. empresstrudy

    Nuke Iran bulldoze it over, wipe it clean and start over with human beings this time.

    February 4, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. Sly


    @Sly...your (lack of) knowledge of what McCain did or dd not do in Vietnam only underscores the obvious....that you are a troll without any interest in the facts. Back under your little rock until it's time to collect your next govt.-issued check.

    Thank you Yolanda for educating me that McCain's B52-s were just dropping napalm on the women and children of Vietnam to help keep them warm.

    For a second I mistakenly thought the dude was spraying chemical weapons to hurt people there.

    February 4, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  12. alan zucki

    Dear Mr. McCain, let’s concentrate in solving our economical problems that making raciest jokes. After choosing Sarah Palin as your running mate we all know you could be hilarious.

    February 4, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. mdn

    He's not a racist. Some of his best friends are monkeys.

    February 4, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. skr321

    What on earth was racist about that?? The problem is, that not to many people seem to know what the word racist means.

    February 4, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. John the Historian

    Rich man's war and poor man's fight. No to war with Iran, a country of 80 million people. We were defeated in Iraq a country of 29 million people.

    February 4, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  16. TheProfessor

    Ahmadinejad is a monkey. There, I said it. Call me a racist! 🙂 Have a nice day!

    February 4, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  17. sasss31

    As an Iranian, I find Senator McCain's comments to be of good humor. If he said "wasn't there an Iranian there last week" that might have been racist. Not "wasn't he there already last week". He was referring to Ahmadinejad, not Iranians. We Iranians already call him a monkey and make fun of him as one (although I think that is disrespectful to monkeys all around the world).

    February 4, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  18. BobT

    So John McCain makes another clueless comments – what else is new?

    February 4, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  19. tom

    I think McCain's comment was funny because I do not like Ahmadinejad. Nevertheless, it was unwise of him to make such a remark.

    February 4, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  20. Ron Huegel

    Sen.McCain only voiced what many, if not most, Americans were thinking. The reference was to a single person and not to an entire race. Had someone said the same thing about Sen. McCain or any other conservative, nothing would have said. This reaction to a simple joke about a man who is a sworn enemy of the United States is nothing less than the hobbling of the 1st Amendment through out-of-control political correctness. People can no longer express themselves, lest they be guilty of offending another person!

    February 4, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. snowdogg

    No fan of McCain but... this is not an issue worth any fuss.

    February 4, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. ohad

    I can picture Ahmejinidad in a TV commercial running around barefoot, dressed in a diaper or a pair of overalls, screaching at the top of his lungs whilst eating a banana. Only problem is he lacks the cuteness factor.

    February 4, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. raz swagger

    who cares if he calls this clown a monkey. Not racist at all... we are talking Iran! they are just as animalistic as monkeys if not more!!!

    February 4, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. jake

    McCain = redundant and obsolete

    February 4, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. Lone wolf

    Too bad McCain has lost it. He use to be a man of integrity, but I guess now he is trying to be a mouth peace for the tea party and the rest of the angry hate filled ultra righter's.

    February 4, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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