On CNN, Politico's Allen defends McCain response to "bitch" question about Clinton: "[W]hat Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that?"November 14, 2007 5:32 PM EST ››› SARAH PAVLUS
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On the November 14 edition of CNN's American Morning, during a discussion with co-anchor Kiran Chetry about Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's (AZ) response to a question during a campaign event in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where a questioner asked, "How do we beat the bitch?" -- presumably referring to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) -- Politico chief political correspondent Mike Allen said, "[W]hat Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that?"
Allen's comments were noted in the November 14 edition of the National Journal's The Hotline (subscription required).
Allen continued: "And what people like about McCain is his straight talk, his candor, and if he had folded or buckled under that question, that would have looked ridiculous. There's no question about, as he said, the respect that the two of them have -- this is something actually your viewers would not know -- Senator McCain and Senator Clinton actually do have a genuine friendship in part because of their overseas travels from the Armed Services Committee, so they do not attack each other. But Kiran, this was just a funny moment on the campaign trail."
As Media Matters for America has noted, many media figures have called McCain a "straight talker" despite the stark inconsistency he has displayed on issues ranging from the Iraq war and the Bush tax cuts to his opinion of certain influential conservative, evangelical Christians.
Furthermore, in claiming that McCain and Clinton "actually do have a genuine friendship ... so they do not attack each other," Allen ignored McCain's previous smears of Clinton. As Media Matters documented, an October 18 Associated Press article reported that while campaigning in South Carolina, McCain "couldn't resist a swipe at Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton." The article noted that during an appearance at the University of South Carolina Upstate nursing school, "McCain took one look at a nursing school's training mannequin and asked if the dummy's name was Hillary." The article quoted McCain as saying, "I was very glad to meet the dummy, named 'Hillary.' " The story, which the AP labeled the "Play of the Day," was picked up by numerous media outlets, including the New York Daily News, The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, MSNBC.com, the Houston Chronicle, AOL News, ABCNews.com's The Note, Time.com, and the The Boston Globe.
And in 1998, while appearing at a Republican fundraiser, McCain reportedly made what New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called "his disgusting jape": "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." McCain reportedly apologized to President Bill Clinton for the comment.
From the November 14 edition of CNN's American Morning:
CHETRY: All right, so then on the flip side, let's go over to the GOPs for a second, and maybe being too candid can be the problem in this case. This was a campaign event of John McCain's in South Carolina on Monday. And let's just listen to what happened.
[begin video clip]
FEMALE QUESTIONER: How do we beat the bitch?
McCAIN: May I give the translation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1: Leave it alone.
McCAIN: The way that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2: John, I thought she was talking about my ex-wife.
McCAIN: But that's an excellent question. ... I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat [sic] Party.
CHETRY: All right Mike, does that hurt McCain?
ALLEN: Oh, give me a break. Of course not. First of all, I think it's kind of funny. You watch that tape, it's clear to him who she was referring to. He could have said, whoever were you talking about? Which might have been the deftest way to handle it.
CHETRY: But he said that's an excellent question.
ALLEN: All right. But what Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that? And what people like about McCain is his straight talk, his candor, and if he had folded or buckled under that question, that would have looked ridiculous. There's no question about, as he said, the respect that the two of them have -- this is something actually your viewers would not know -- Senator McCain and Senator Clinton actually do have a genuine friendship in part because of their overseas travels from the Armed Services committee, so they do not attack each other. But Kiran, this was just a funny moment on the campaign trail.
CHETRY: Well, it's only funny unless you're offended by somebody calling a woman the b-word. And I'm sure there are many who are. So it'll -- I mean, yes or no before I let you go: Should Hillary address this or just leave it alone?
ALLEN: This question? I think she should leave it alone because others will address it for her. People who are upset about it will have seen this clip, and Senator McCain will pay that price.
CHETRY: All right, it was great to have you on the show this morning. Mike Allen, chief political correspondent for Politico. Thanks.
ALLEN: Likewise, have a good week Kiran.
CHETRY: You too.