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Politics Stops at Water's Edge, but Not Above It

By Juliet Eilperin
ABOARD THE McCAIN CAMPAIGN PLANE -- The moment Sen. John McCain touches down on foreign soil, he says, he will not criticize his Democratic rival for the presidency, Sen. Barack Obama. In international airspace, though? Well, that's a different matter.

In two separate interviews with reporters en route to Colombia on Tuesday, McCain questioned Obama's shifting position on trade as well as his experience with Latino voters. Voters, he argued, will ultimately vote Republican once they see the two candidates side by side.

When asked about how he intended to woo Latinos this fall, McCain said he had a much easier task than did his opponent.

"Hispanic culture is an integral part of my state: Spanish was spoken in Arizona before English was," McCain said. "So I understand the issues, I understand the patriotism, I understand all of the issues that affect Hispanic Latino voters, and I was very happy in the primaries to receive an overwhelming majority of the Hispanic votes in those primaries because they know me and they know me well. Senator Obama has little or no encounters with their issues."

He was even harsher in describing the junior senator from Illinois' stance on trade, calling him "a protectionist and anti-free trade."

"Now he has switched -- I mean, remarkably -- from saying that he would unilaterally renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement in the strongest possible terms in Ohio, he went to North Carolina and said, 'Well, I'm for free trade.' "

McCain said that while his own support for free trade might not appeal to the majority of voters, who remain skeptical of such agreements, he believed Americans would reward him for being consistent.

"I think Americans will agree I will be the best president of the United States of America because I take stands on principle, and I don't switch positions depending on what audience or what time it is in the electoral calendar," he said. "I think Americans want a leader they can trust and have confidence in, and they will more and more see where Senator Obama has switched his positions on fundamental issues, not really cosmetic issues, fundamental issues."

He added that his support for overhauling the nation's current worker retraining programs could help convince voters he cares about their interests even as he is pushing to lower trade barriers.

"I didn't think my position on Iraq might not have resonated with people. I have to do what I think is right for this country," he said. "I have to do what I think is right for America. But I also want to add very quickly, I understand the pain people are going through. I understand the challenges. And that's why I've come forward with a strong, viable education and retraining program for displaced workers. To just be for free trade is one thing. But the fact is, I want to be able to help those workers who need help right now. We have a concrete, specific plan to do that."

By Post Editor  |  July 2, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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Next: McCain's Supreme Court Judgment Calls


Yo NO quiero Juan McCain!

Posted by: CrazyMe | July 2, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, sure...McBush understands the Hispanic population in Arizona...Why wouldn't he? EVERY MILLIONAIRE BEER DISTRIBUTOR'S HUSBAND does!

Posted by: Daddio on the Paddio | July 2, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

John McCain has no understanding of the issues that affect our country inclucing the Iraq issue. He thinks because he visits Iraq 100 times that makes him able to deal with the issues. The truth is he has not learned anything from his visits and if he does he is not intellectually able to express them so we can understand. He would be better served by getting some help from the people who know better and then he would be in a position to spead.

He is woefully inadequate as a potential president. Is this the best we can do? If that answer is positive then our country is in great trouble.

Posted by: John | July 2, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

McCain has to keep calling them as he sees them. Obama calls them as the pollsters see them. One must lead not follow when they are President.

Lets hope McCain keeps leading not following

VJ Machiavelli
ps This election is all about shoes, yes shoes, silly but true. Do we keep on taking them off, or put them on for good, and never take them off again every time we board a plane.

Posted by: VJ Machiavelli | July 2, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Because people spoke Spanish in Arizona, John McCain is all about Latin America and free trade?


Posted by: Susan | July 2, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

If Obama really meant what he said about Latin America, he would be on the next plane to see us. Saying the right thing and not doing it has become your style. Obama talks really good. Now, get him to accomplish something.

Posted by: Brazil | July 2, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't Michelle Obama working as a high powered, high paying lawyer for Wall-Mart? Didn't Obama condem some woman for being a lawyer on Wall-Mart's payroll?

Posted by: Curious | July 2, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

The Obamas bought the house for $300,000 less than the asking price of $1.95 million, while Rezko's wife, Rita, bought the neighboring lot for the full asking price of $625,000. Rita Rezko later sold a portion of the undeveloped lot to the Obamas, enlarging the senator's yard.

There is a word for this: CORRUPTION.

Posted by: Say No To Obama | July 2, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

The Obamas bought the house for $300,000 less than the asking price of $1.95 million, while Rezko's wife, Rita, bought the neighboring lot for the full asking price of $625,000. Rita Rezko later sold a portion of the undeveloped lot to the Obamas, enlarging the senator's yard.

There is a word for this: CORRUPTION.

Posted by: Say No To Obama | July 2, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Earth calling Sen. McCain: Americans do not "agree" that you'd be the best President. The polls, which are understated due to black and young voter turnout, tell a much different story.

And you may think you understand latinos and immigration, but giving fence jumpers preferential treatment over the people who have had the decency to wait in line and respect America and her laws shows a complete lack of understanding American law, Americans ideals of equal rights and justice, and the conservative nature of latino voters. Catholic voters who understand who you are and why you left your first wife for a younger, prettier, richer model.

You can go to Latin America, but Obama is winning the latin vote 2-1. And you are depressing your conservative base by pursuing a wrong-headed strategy.

That you are playing a losing hand and don't know it just goes to show that you do not have the intellectual wherewithal to be the man.

Posted by: JR, Boston | July 2, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

He agreed with George Bush when he called Obama a Nazi Appeaser in from of Israeli Parliament so add this to another flip flop.

He thinks he will have an east time with Hispanics, that must be why his support is at 28 percent. What an idiot.

Posted by: Julian | July 2, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

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