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. GnatB

    Maybe I'm missing something...

    But wouldn't he have to be calling the president of Iran an actual slur against arabs for it to be a racist comment? Maybe I don't move in racist circles enough, but I wasn't aware "monkey" was a racist term for Arabs.

    Now, it may have been offensive, may have been rude, (both of which were undoubtable intended), but it wasn't particularly racist.

    But hey, As far as I care, Mahmoud started it by calling us the Great Satan. After that, "Monkey" is pretty mild.

    February 4, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. Brian

    That's not racist.

    February 4, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  3. Carl

    John McCain seems determined to destroy the dignity of his military and political career with insensitive hate filled remarks. Please Senator go home and let us remember the other John McCain.

    February 4, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  4. Sarah Palin

    John has become even more inept and insensitive than me.......although, I would like to buy Ahmadinejad a one way ticket to the moon.

    February 4, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  5. Squigman

    This is why we have few, if any friends we can count on in the world. People like this have been given a free pass long enough. It's way past time for this cretin to be on the retirees list, with a gag order on all future comments.

    February 4, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  6. Larry L

    We don't pay our Senators to be funny – or to obstruct all progress because you're bitter about getting defeated in 2008. McCain is a pitiful relic of a man.

    February 4, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  7. Cameron Ghaffari

    I think that's a funny joke and there's nothing wrong with him expressing his freedom of speech, but when your a senator and have an important role in our government and legislation you cant be saying racist jokes like that.

    February 4, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  8. queenbee9

    AS a rule, people without a top lip tend to be racist, petty and pretty mean–that is what having no lip will do to you.

    February 4, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  9. dreamer96

    All humans share 98% of the same DNA with monkeys...but I do not understand why McCain wants to insult all monkeys so...Monkeys to not wage world wars....Monkeys to not threaten all life on earth with a Nuclear exchange, Monkeys are not polluting the world....

    February 4, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  10. paul teague

    Yes, Amahdinejad is not a good guy (from our point of view), but the man is the elected head-of-state of a major and important country. Someone as distinguished and politically influential as McCain can not call him what he did. It makes out whole country look bad. Imagine if the North Koreans called our President that?

    February 4, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  11. Brian

    Iran's president is a PhD engineer. How much education does Sarah Palin's running mate have?

    February 4, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  12. Old Shoe

    Any unsavory name for the president of Iran is appropos. He is a ticking nuke along with the nut job in North Korea.

    February 4, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  13. KC Yankee

    He's presidential caliber.

    February 5, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  14. vidal808

    There is not much that I agree what McCain says these days but in this instance I am fully supporting him. That guy in Iran is a morone and that is not what McCain said, he was kind and called him a Monkey....Go senator, go......

    February 5, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  15. freeindi

    that's an insult to the monkey

    February 5, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  16. Thomas

    How long has he been a Senator ?

    February 5, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  17. Cynthia

    John McCain is a senator from my state and I want to send him a 'joke'...his expiration date has expired, he looks like his face is made of wax, 'come on, light this candle'. (The Right Stuff) He wasn't a bad senator the first part of his political career, but over the past 15 years he's flip-flopped so much he's starting to look like a dead fish. HA HA John

    February 5, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  18. Sean

    The biggest joke of all is John McCain being a senator.

    February 5, 2013 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  19. MashaSobaka

    Reason 5,924 why this man was NOT fit to be President.

    February 5, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  20. Jeff

    Well there is a pretty low bar to what might be considered racist these days. You almost need your own personal PC monitor to censor everything you say that might be misinterpreted.

    February 5, 2013 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Enough with the self-righteous, holier than thou political correctness! It was joke. More especially, a joke about a jerk who really should be in jail for his involvement in the Iran hostages situation to say the least!

    February 5, 2013 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  22. RealPersian

    How is it racist when Persians(Iranians) are white. Look up the definition of Iran. Unfortunately Hitler, studied history and took their salute and the swastika symbol which was for the sun. They speak Farsi which is an indo-european language. The reason whites are called caucasian are because they came from the caucasus mountains which for a period was part of the Persian empire.

    February 5, 2013 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  23. Benny P

    does anyone REALLY believe what he said was racist? it's just another thing to give people a reason to whine. when bush was in office, i saw picture of him being transformed into a money, and no one called it racist. what a bunch of overly-sensitive, hyper-emotional cry-babies. go back to facebook

    February 5, 2013 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  24. gary

    When my dad starting exhibiting the type of behavior Mr. McCain has been exhibiting over the past few years, we made him more comfortable. It's called H-O-S-P-I-C-E. It may well be time.

    February 5, 2013 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  25. S.D. SoCal

    As a persian, i gotta say, his joke while unfunny, is definitely not racist. Ahmadinejad looks like a monkey!! It's a childish joke from Mcain, but he makes a point!

    February 5, 2013 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
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