ONTD Political

McCain vs. Spain: "I meant to do that!"

1:10 pm - 09/18/2008
McCain Meant To Reject Spain Meeting, Adviser Says
September 18, 2008 11:18 AM

The McCain campaign insisted Thursday morning that the Senator meant what he said when, during an interview on Spanish radio, he refused to commit to a meeting with Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Zapatero.

"The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and id'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview," the Senator's foreign policy adviser Randy Sheunemann told the Washington Post.

Sheunemann's answer is likely to cause deep ripples within the diplomatic community, as it represents a more aggressive and antagonistic approach than that deployed by the Bush administration. It also promises to be hotly contested, as a review of the McCain interview suggests that the Senator was confused as to who Zapatero actually was.

Appearing on the Miami-based Union Radio, a Spanish language radio station that conducted its interview in English, McCain touted his record "of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us, and standing up to those who are not." This came even after the questioner began that portion of the interview by saying: "let's talk about Spain." Listen:

(Transcript Below)

Certainly, it is possible that McCain misheard the question, though the topic was subsequently brought up three more times. But Scheunemann is now insisting that the Senator meant what he said. As such, it is important to understand how such a take on U.S.-Spain relations compares with current U.S. policy. As the Huffington Post reported Wednesday evening, the Bush administration has made overt gestures in recent years to overcome what once was a frosty relationship -- derived, primarily, from Spain's decision to remove forces from Iraq -- with the Zapatero government.

In July 2007, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared that "the United States and Spain are allies. We're in NATO together; we are serving together in Afghanistan. A lot of our conversation today was about that, working together on any number of issues. We've had our differences... [but] I feel that the relationship is warm. We had a good discussion today... We're allies. But when we have differences, we will express them. I think there's no secret that out of the Iraq war, we had a particular difference in the timing of the withdrawal. But that's behind us now, and we need to look forward and look to areas on which we can cooperate and work together."

In fact, even McCain in the past has been open to closer diplomatic relations with Zapatero and Spain. As John Aravosis of AmericaBlog noted, the Senator gave an interview to El Pais back in April in which he said that the differences between the U.S. and Spain should be swept under the rug.

QUESTION: Senator, finally, let's talk about Spain. If you're elected president, would you be willing to invite President Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero to the White House to meet with you?

MCCAIN: I would be willing meet, uh, with those leaders who our friends [sic] and want to work with us in a cooperative fashion, and by the way, President Calderon of Mexico is fighting a very very tough fight against the drug cartels. I'm glad we are now working in cooperation with the Mexican government on the Merida plan. I intend to move forward with relations, and invite as many of them as I can, those leaders, to the White House.

QUESTION: Would that invitation be extended to the Zapatero government, to the president itself?

MCCAIN: I don't, you know, honestly I have to look at relations and the situations and the priorities, but I can assure you I will establish closer relations with our friends and I will stand up to those who want to do harm to the United States of America.

QUESTION: So you have to wait and see if he's willing to meet with you, or you'll be able to do it in the White House?

MCCAIN: Well again I don't, all I can tell you is that I have a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us, and standing up to those who are not, and that's judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America, and the entire region.

QUESTION: Okay... what about you, I'm talking about the President of Spain?

MCCAIN: What about me what?

QUESTION: Okay... are you willing to meet with him if you are elected president?

MCCAIN: I am willing to meet with any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are for human rights, democracy and freedom, and I will stand up to those that do not.


so, let's summarise

1. he doesn't know who the leader of spain is
2. he isn't aware that spain is not in the western hemisphere
3. he isn't aware that spain is not part of latin america
4. he either a) is going fucking senile and the campaign is trying to cover it up with 'he meant to do that!'s or b) is a fucking loon who won't commit to good relations with a NATO ally, to the point of insult. neither of these is good.

ETA: saucy!

ETA2: edited to cut more. didn't realise how long it was!
poetic_daze 18th-Sep-2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
oh sweet lawd

i wonder if he even knows his own name or what year it is... seriously
poetic_daze 18th-Sep-2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
also emailing to Keith and Rach :D
winniechili 18th-Sep-2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
WTF? I can't believe they thought this explanation would make things BETTER! Yes, I know Spain pulled out of Iraq and is therefore a danger to freedom and liberty and sled dogs, but they're still in NATO, and.....UGH WTF.

I don't understand. NOTHING he has said lately has made ANY SENSE. There is no doubt in my mind that there's something wrong with his mental acuity.
silverpatronus 18th-Sep-2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
spain is still in afghanistan, despite having pulled out of iraq, so this is a gigantic clusterfuck. he may set off a diplomatic incident.
ayajedi 18th-Sep-2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
It seems that he may have. It was just on CNN America, the Spanish Press is up in arms over this. They are seeing it as a snub against Zapatero. Rick Sanchez even spoke to the reporter who conducted the original interview
nikoel 18th-Sep-2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
The first round of debates next Friday should be interesting...
misatojaganshi 18th-Sep-2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
omg wtf, so basically he won't have diplomatic relationships with anyone who doesn't share his own views? how is this attitude going to be progressive for the world? it sounds so childish D:
ayajedi 18th-Sep-2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
I think he's gone loony
schmiss 18th-Sep-2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
LOL @ Scheunemann's inability to even ID Zapatero as the PM and not the President. Think this response was rushed out?

Frankly, their explanation is even freakier than the original gaffe. If McCain is getting senile, that's scary. But if McCain is so gullible that he's completely parroting the extremist neocons advising his campaign and planning to isolate ANYONE who doesn't 100% support their crusades in the Middle East? DDDD:

Edited at 2008-09-18 05:27 pm (UTC)
to_biased 18th-Sep-2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
Actually Zapatero is the "President of the Government of Spain".

rex_dart 18th-Sep-2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've been seeing him as PM in English and president in Spanish. I'm taking the Spanish.
sixfiftysix 18th-Sep-2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
I have been saying for months that I think he is experiencing the onset of dementia.

Add another example of why I feel that way to the pile. The John McCain of 2000 would simply not make such similar "mistakes."
dolcianiblows 18th-Sep-2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
Is he losing his mind? I ask this seriously.

His mental health records are off-limits, but now I'm starting to worry about his mental state.
heather 18th-Sep-2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
The clip still sounded to me like he didn't know who Zapatero even was, which is bad enough, but if he really is taking a more belligerent stance on one of our NATO allies, that's even worse. We're fucked if he wins.
quinatorte 18th-Sep-2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Okay, yeah, the elevator's not going all the way to the top floor these days.
saturdaysinbed 18th-Sep-2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Seriously. No, seriously. I'm starting to think he's ACTUALLY losing it. Really.
winniechili 18th-Sep-2008 05:48 pm (UTC)

Seriously, this is potentially a pretty big thing, taking on a NATO member like that. Especially after he said just a few months ago he wants to normalize relations with Spain.

zgirl714 18th-Sep-2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
Is he afraid of water too? Jesus.
teresadivicenzo 18th-Sep-2008 05:51 pm (UTC)

I've been reading this and refusing to believe it really but, just, omg. Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt now, then this is worse than the current occupant of the WH in terms of isolationism. If he just fucked up and his brain wasn't in gear for a moment, that can happen. Do I want it to happen in a leader? Course not. But that's almost preferable that he just had a moment where he simply *forgot*.
silverpatronus 18th-Sep-2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
the fact that instead of brushing it off as a mistake that they insist that this is what he meant says to me that they don't even want a whiff of 'senior moment' around him...which says to me that he's losing his marbles and they're hoping to hide it.
teresadivicenzo 18th-Sep-2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm a bit irked tbh by the MSM on this one. If this was yet another Bush gaffe, then it would be everywhere. I mean, remember the General? This is ostensibly McCain not having a fucking clue about Spain - a NATO ally. So if he thinks that during his Presidency he wouldn't meet Zapatero and work with him, then he'll be a little disappointed.
srahman24 18th-Sep-2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is insulting (especially as a Canadian - not involved in Iraq, deeply involved in Afghanistan: would he not talk to us either?). This is going to create one hell of a shitstorm...

Edited at 2008-09-18 05:54 pm (UTC)
tilfinningunni senility means meeting new people every day18th-Sep-2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
sure he meant it. just like when he said the economy was fundamentally stronghe was really talking about the workers, you guys...... why don't you believe him?...
jesus, twice in 4 days. i seriously hope people don't buy this shit.
old man is old....and out of touch.
eversofar 18th-Sep-2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
I'm almost hoping that he just had a brain fart instead of being a completely childish and not letting people into his Club of Uber Specialness where everyone thinks the same.
buffy_usa 18th-Sep-2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
audio via you tube

i have to be honest. i listened twice. mccain talks credibly (based on his positions) about venezuela, bolivia, cuba et al. by the time the question about spain came up, i interpreted mccain to simply be annoyed and losing patience with the interviewer, not that he didn't realize spain was in europe and zapata and so on. e.g. he sounds testy, not confused.
silverpatronus 18th-Sep-2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
old folks tend to get testy when they get confused and you start correcting them. i live with elderly relatives. this is all feeling massively familiar.
finchburg 18th-Sep-2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
3. he isn't aware that spain is not part of latin america

I need to seek out some Spanish articles and see what they are saying about this. There is an attitude in Spain that really looks down on Latin America and tries to put as much distance between the two groups as possible. It is very elitist and facinating, I wonder what type of reaction they are having to McCain about this.
godsy 18th-Sep-2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
At least he didn't say READ MY BOOK WHY YOU ASKING ME THIS or something along those lines.
julieannie 18th-Sep-2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Another reason to think he's losing his mind.
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