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In Derry, New Hampshire, Senator John McCain commented on Bush's suggestion that we might stay in Iraq 50 years with his own suggestion to make it 100.

Special Dossier: Presidential Primaries

Senator John McCain
Former Mavericks' Embrace of Extremism.

-- Ira Forman

On the Republican side of the President Primaries, we witnessed the political revival of Senator John McCain. With media reports focusing on the support he received from independents, there is a risk that the Senator’s history of taking right wing positions will be buried.

Senator McCain says that America is a Christian nation, the Constitution a Christian document, and that Christian religious preferences are an important characteristic for a president. He favors overturning Roe v. Wade and has voted only 15% of the time with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Further, the Senator has suggested that James Baker could serve as Middle East envoy in a McCain administration (Baker reportedly said "[expletive] the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway" in a conversation about policy toward Israel, while serving the first Bush administration).

"The Christian right has a major role to play in the Republican Party." - John McCain, Meet The Press, April 2, 2006

Extreme Positions On Social Issues

McCain stated that a candidate’s Christian faith is "an important characteristic" for a president, that he would prefer a Christian president and that the "Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." Furthermore, despite criticism, a statement from his official campaign spokeswoman defended the comments and said again, "America is a Christian nation, and it is hardly a controversial claim."

McCain has voted two-thirds of the time against bills supported by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

McCain took back his 2000 comments calling the late Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance;" telling Tim Russert that Falwell is not an agent of intolerance. He delivered the commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University in May 2006. [ThinkProgress, 4/2/06]

Senator McCain supports repealing Roe v. Wade and has achieved a 0% voting record by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). His campaign has bashed opponent Mitt Romney for being insufficiently committed to the anti-choice cause.

McCain is on record saying that religion should be taught as science in our public schools in the model of "intelligent design." The Arizona Daily Star reported that McCain "sided with the president" on "teaching intelligent design in schools;" McCain "told the Star that, like Bush, he believes 'all points of view' should be available to students studying the origins of mankind."

McCain endorsed an Arizona ballot initiative that banned both gay marriage and civil unions by writing discrimination into the Arizona constitution. [Arizona Republic 1/8/06]

McCain is no moderate

McCain has a far right voting record. According to Project Vote Smart, McCain:

  • Has only voted 15% of the time with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights;
  • Has only voted 33% of the time with the American Civil Liberties Union;
  • Has only voted 33% of the time with the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign;
  • Has only voted 7% of the time (only 7%!) with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 2006, McCain endorsed far right wing candidate Rep. Randy Graf for election to Congress and extremist Len Munsil for Governor of Arizona. Graf proudly touted his affiliations with the Minuteman Project, an anti-immigration group that watches the Mexican border with the intent of enforcing immigration laws on a vigilante basis. Len Munsil is one of the most prominent religious right leaders in Arizona. 

In 2006, McCain also endorsed extreme conservative Kenneth Blackwell in the primary in his race for Governor of Ohio – Blackwell faced moderate Republicans in the primary.

McCain hired Terry Nelson for his campaign; Nelson was accused of producing race-bating ads against Democratic nominee Harold Ford in the 2006 Ohio Senate race. [NJDC Blog, 12/7/06]

Who would McCain appoint as President?

McCain named lobbyist (and former Rep.) Tom Loeffler as his campaign’s general co-chairman --- Loeffler lobbies for the Saudi government. Loeffler received nearly a million dollars per year from the Saudis, his job within the McCain campaign has been described as such: "Loeffler will play a similar role to that of Don Evans during then Texas Governor George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, managing McCain's interests across a variety of intersecting universes -- donors lobbyists Capitol Hill and the executive branch."

McCain named Fred Malek as a finance co-chair; Malek was dispatched by Richard Nixon to count the number of Jews employed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nixon claimed that a cabal of Jews working at the Bureau were skewing economic figures to harm his administration. Malek was deputy director of CREEP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President. It should be noted that Malek later expressed regret for his actions. 

McCain suggested that he may name James Baker as Middle East envoy, were he elected to the White House.

Straight talk? Or questionable judgement?

On his campaign bus in March of 2000 Sen. John McCain told reporters, "I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live."

At Murrells Inlet VFW Hall in South Carolina, McCain was asked when he thought the US Military might "send an air mail message to Tehran." "McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song," the Georgetown Times reported . "'Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,' he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann."

In November, 2007 a John McCain supporter in South Carolina asked him "How do we beat the bitch" in reference to Senator Hillary Clinton. Senator McCain response was to laugh and respond "That's an excellent question." [New York Times 11/14/07]

In an April 16, 2007 letter to Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network (SLDN), McCain stated that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy instituted in 1993, "unambiguously maintains that open homosexuality within the military services presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion and discipline."

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