McCain Responds to Spurious Charge of Racism

Accusation that criticism of Susan Rice is based on race 'hurts a little bit,' says Arizona Senator


Last night on Hardball, MSNBC Executive Editor Richard Wolffe levied the charge that Sen. John McCain’s opposition to Ambassador Susan Rice’s potential nomination to Secretary of State was based on racial prejudice:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: So, you think McCain is being– McCain and people like Lindsey Graham, McCain, who had his own daughter attacked, was accused of having an illegitimate child when, in fact, he adopted a young girl from South Asia. You’re saying that McCain’s being driven by racial prejudice here?

RICHARD WOLFFE: There is no other way to look at this

Three hours earlier, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington D.C. was interviewed by Megyn Kelly of Fox News and asked if GOP opposition to Ambassador Rice’s potential nomination to Secretary of State was based on racism or sexism:

MEGYN KELLY: We had congresswoman after congresswoman come out and say this is racism and sexism and you are saying on the record you disagree with that contention?

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON: I am. You have to understand I’m a former Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. So I don’t take racism and sexism by implication, I have to see some evidence of it. The evidence is that they are focusing in on the messenger. They know that the administration was evaluating this information as it came in. They have her with the information she had at the time. I quoted at the press conference the office of the national intelligence director evaluating what she said. And he said that that was the information we had at the time. That was the information we gave to the administration. And that’s the information she gave to the public.

But McCain is not alone in his objections: Noted liberal columnists Maureen Dowd and Dana Milbank have also expressed doubts about Rice’s post-September 11th talk show performance and her potential nomination to Secretary of State.

Dowd: (Ambassador Rice) would have been wise to be more bull-in-a-china-shop and vet her talking points, given that members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities and sources in news accounts considered it a terrorist attack days before Rice went on the shows.

Milbank: (Ambassador Rice) is ill-equipped to be the nation’s top diplomat.

Today, Sen. McCain responded to Wolffe’s allegations on the “Nearly Famous” Barry Young Show:

BARRY YOUNG: There is no other way, There is no other way, what? Where does it cross the line to be bizarre?

SENATOR MCCAIN: I don’t know, honestly Barry, when someone says something like that it hurts a little bit. But honestly, I knew Chris Stevens very well, our Ambassador to Libya. He was a wonderful man, he was such a great public servant. I owe it to him and his family, the families of those other three who were killed, who were former Seals. So you have to understand those kinds of attacks take place when they can’t win on the merits of the discussion. So you just have to move on.