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'Excellent Question' Dogs McCain Campaign

Too-open a microphone for McCain in South Carolina? (AP).

John McCain, who is drawing criticism for not challenging a South Carolina voter's vulgar reference to Hillary Clinton, issued a letter accusing CNN of having "stooped to an all-time low" in trumpeting the incident.

On Monday night, when a woman at a town hall asked how Republicans could beat Clinton--calling her a word that rhymes with witch--McCain smiled as the crowd laughed and said it was an "excellent question." After citing a poll showing him beating her in a general-election matchup, the Arizona senator said: "I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat Party."

Anchor Rick Sanchez led off his "Out in the Open" show with the video, saying: "This could be real bad for John McCain....No matter what you think of Hillary Clinton, is John McCain done as a result of this?....I think he could be in trouble for this from women."

Campaign manager Rick Davis, in a fundraising letter, charged the "Clinton News Network" with "gratuitously attacking" McCain. He said CNN "owes John McCain an apology because of the outrageous behavior" of Sanchez, and that "the liberal media" are "trying to stop the McCain comeback."

Although McCain made no effort to rebuke the questioner, CNN may have overdramatized the incident. But there is a note of irony in McCain, a media darling during the 2000 race, now accusing journalists of trying to derail his campaign.

--Howard Kurtz
Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program.

By Washington Post editors  |  November 14, 2007; 4:00 PM ET
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I think that McCain is just being another politician trying not to offend anyone by making a statement that hasn't been well thought out. Nothing coming form his mouth, more often than not, is something that has been put there by someone on his campaign committee. By laughing and then giving his response gave the audience his true insight or opinion on the event.

Posted by: calicoribbon | November 16, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

McCain should have planted someone in his audience to make sure only benign questions were asked. Oh yeah, Hillary already did that and now we are talking about something that John McCain 'didn't' say??? Hillary said she was sorry though so it's all good.

Posted by: rlpawlin | November 15, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

to Cornell1984:

this is not about CNN or the media. or about personal failings, such as incompetence.
the comment was misogynist plain and simple. call an African American a ni**er and you are racist. call a woman the B-word and you are sexist. say "excellent question" and you are on board! play it up down and sideways and that is the whole story. and remember it is very easy to be misogynist and a woman at the same time, as i am SURE you understand.

Posted by: aann25 | November 15, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

So, CNN has absolutely no problem when the democrats call Bush an idiot, a racist, a torturer, a liar, a felon, a criminal, an imbecile, but they are going after McCain because an audience member used the 'B' word? I guess free speech is dead, and audience question planting is much safer. I am not a McCain supporter, but I sent him a contribution, as a woman, to show that Hillary should not have the press as her gatekeeper AGAIN. The WaPo is also leaving out much of the conversation. Just more Clintonistas in the press. I don't know one woman who will vote for Hillary, including democrats!!! Woman have worked too hard to vote for someone because of their sex. This will only help McCain, and hurt Hillary as the goons circle the wagon to protect someone who wants to be president. Sounds like she is not worthy, strong enough, or smart enough to handle it on her own.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | November 15, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Q: how do we beat the ni**er?
A by McCAin: laughs, and then: well that's an excellent question!
OR! how about: next question, one without racism please.
it is THAT simple. J-Boy, just say NO!

Posted by: aann25 | November 15, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

This whole thing is ridiculous. Mc Cain's supposed to "take out" a supporter just because she's asks a question using a term that most of us feel is out of line? I think not and most women, including my wife who voted for Bill Clinton twice, don't either.

Clinton's trying to have it both ways and can't get it. History will decide what her importance or lack of same was. In the meantime, I propose to use what Queen Mother Elizabeth used with Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Dutchess of Windsor (i.e. "that woman")

Posted by: NoMugwump | November 15, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The woman questioner and John McCain together exemplified the attitude of Republicans toward women who aspire to become president. Note also McCain's reference to the "Democrat Party." He's well-practiced in the Roveian art of Republican demagoguery.

Posted by: jp1954 | November 15, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

That woman in McCain's town hall meeting took a page from Barbara Bush's play book against Geraldine Ferraro, when the congresswoman ran as vice-presidential candidate against Bush, the elder. So, this then is 1984 all over again--not a nice picture.
More on this at:

Posted by: bn1123 | November 15, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Yes, he should have gone down there and beat that woman up. Just like when Hill called Petraues a liar. He should have walk up from the table and smacked her. Too funny how now these people are not only responsible for what they say but are not responsible for what some schmuck they never met says. Maybe Hill planted that lady looking to take some heat off of her.

Posted by: KABOOKEY | November 15, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Would he have laughed it off and reacted the same way if someone had been asking about Obama and said, 'How do we beat the n****r?' AND use the situation to raise funds? No.

Would he have replied "Excellent question?" Absolutely not.

Chalk it up to being put in such an awkward position he choked? I don't think so. It may have been awkward but he had ample opportunity to take a stand and he failed and is continuing to fail.

Posted by: ebola4dollars | November 15, 2007 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Given the imperfect world we live in I think he handled the incident adequately. His "excellent question" remark had to do with the actual question asked and the fact that he believes he would do well running against Clinton. More importantly his remark regarding his respect for senator Clinton I believe was an indirect and polite way to signal that he disagrees with the characterization of HRC as a b.

Remember, the woman asking the question was his senior, and in context you see that McCain is clearly not happy with the way the question was asked.

I support Hillary but I give McCain the benefit of the doubt because of the way he respectfully "attacked" Hillary in his "John and Hillary game show". As I stated in that blog, the skit/game was "Hillary-ous!" but respectful. In this context, and the way that both of them have appeared to show respect to one another in the past, I give him the benefit of the doubt-This time.

Posted by: mcfield | November 15, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

They mock her proposals, utter her name with a sneer and win standing ovations by ridiculing her ideas as un-American, even socialistic. She has become the one thing the Republican candidates for president can agree on.

Do you believe the anti-Hillary rhetoric from the GOP Presidential candidates will pay off?



Posted by: PollM | November 15, 2007 12:22 AM | Report abuse

"Although McCain made no effort to rebuke the questioner, CNN may have overdramatized the incident."

This whole "Howard Kurtz as GOP apologist" thing is getting out of hand. Does the Post really need the RNC subsidy for his salary badly enough to continue this embarrassing sham?

Posted by: zukermand | November 14, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

When McCain was running against Bush I had the utmost respect for him and I was planning to vote for him even though I am a democrat. Many years later he has shown himself as a pathetic statesman unable to fight of Bush's election lies and subsequently playing to Bush's fiddle.
When the question came up he should have steared away or refused to answer if he was a true gentleman, and he proved he was not. Just another pathetic figure trying to stay afloat. I rather vote for Gulliani than him anyday.

Posted by: triangleboy | November 14, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks dbu for the update from the national federation of republican bi**hes about the HUGE gender gap and Hillary's lack of support from GOP b****es.I was at the local socialist cradle to grave entitlement brunch and no one liked any of the BIG GOP bas***ds and they said that they were not going to be molested anymore from the likes of your Daddy and Sonny Bush .

Posted by: rdklingus | November 14, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Those annoying PC people, intefering with our God-given right to bigotry.
Yes, McCain should have said something. It's never comfortable when a friendly person (friendly to you, that is) says something that is so wrong, but it is our job to speak up--especially a potential president.
And then running to the liberal media card.

Posted by: jganth0 | November 14, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

If you don't think Republican women are going to vote for Hillary Clinton, you are in for a rude awakening. Seriously.

imo, John McCain is being extremely tone-deaf on this incident. All Clinton Haters will love it, but the voters who expect him to bring the political dialogue up a notch will find this chortle absolutely offensive.

Not the behavior of a stateman.
More like the behavior of a Tailhook flyboy attending a convention in Las Vegas.

Posted by: freespeak | November 14, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

While I was at the National Federation of Republican Women´s convention in Palm Springs, Hillary was the main topic of discussion and it was not positive or warm toward her. So when her campaign released a poll showing the 18% or 19% of the Republican women were likely to vote for Hillary just to get a woman in the White House, I laughed. Can anyone honestly believe that any registered Republican women who voted for Reagan, Daddy Bush or his George W. would ever vote for Hillary?
Just to write that sentence makes me laugh.
There is a HUGE gender gap on the Democrats side and that is not good.
The only women who might be voting for Hillary are the ones who want government to take care of them from cradle to grave.
Sounds like socialism and that is what you get with Hillary in 2008.
Republican women do not respect Hillary and do not support her, nor will they be voting for her in 2008.

Posted by: dbu2709399aolcom | November 14, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Just today I posted on my blog at an excerpt from Orwell's 1946 essay on politics and the English language.

I listed Orwell's rules that I thought today's bloggers, reporters, and pundits should revisit at least once a week, especially during a political campaign.

Orwell's last rule states: Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I've recently come across some pretty barbaric statements offered as political commentary by respected blogs and MSM Web sites.

McCain's response of "Excellent question" to the woman who referred to Hillary Clinton by a vulgar expression certainly falls into the barbarous category.

What do we have to do to raise the level of political discourse in this country?

Posted by: ichief | November 14, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

2008 Presidential Election Weekly Poll
Results Posted Every Tuesday Evening.

Posted by: votenic | November 14, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh, horse feathers! All of the sudden McCain is to be a censor and educator for adults?

Maybe McCain should have given the woman a one way ticket to the PC Reeducation Gulag.

Posted by: anonthistime | November 14, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

The b. word is used as a weapon to keep uppity women in their place. John McCain's smile says it all though he can play innocent and claim he said nothing. Would he have smiled and said nothing if someone had called Obama the n. word?
McCain has gotten a free ride. Perhaps, if he can't stand the heat he should leave the kitchen, leave it to the b. to do the cooking.

Posted by: jganth0 | November 14, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

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