McCain: Hamas wants Obama to win

Republican candidate says "the people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare."

McCain 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
McCain 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
US Republican presidential candidate John McCain said over the weekend that he would be Hamas's worst nightmare, while Democratic rival Barack Obama was clearly Hamas's choice for US president. "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States," McCain, the putative Republican presidential nominee, said in a conference call on Friday with conservative bloggers. "I think that the people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare," he said in response to a question from Jennifer Rubin of Commentary magazine. Campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said Hamas support "is a legitimate issue for the American people to think about." "The reason for Hamas's praise of Senator Obama's foreign policy is his commitment to meet unconditionally with Iran... It is not only responsible to raise these critical issues in this election, but it would be the height of irresponsibility not to have this discussion with the American people," Rogers said. Obama's foreign policy represented a "radical departure" from current standards of dealing with "rogue regimes," he said. McCain suggested that the support stemmed from Obama's willingness to have diplomatic talks with nations like Iran. "I never expect for the leader of Hamas... to say that he wants me as president of the United States," McCain said. "I think it is very clear... why they would not want me to be president of the United States, so if Sen. Obama is favored by Hamas, I think people can make judgments accordingly." The report was triggered by an interview two weeks ago with Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. "We like Mr. Obama," Yousef said in the interview with WABC television. "We hope that he will win the election." Yousef also compared Obama to John F. Kennedy, saying he would improve the United States' standing in the world. The WABC interviewers had raised Obama in the context of the Illinois senator's rejection of former president Jimmy Carter's attempts to nudge Israel and Hamas into talks. They did not ask Yousef his opinions of McCain or of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is battling Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Nonetheless, a number of blogs have now touted the interview as a Hamas endorsement of Obama. The Obama campaign excoriated McCain for his comments. "We want to take Senator McCain at his word that he wants to run a respectful campaign, but that is becoming increasingly difficult when he continually tries to use the politics of association and makes claims he knows not to be true to advance his campaign," Hari Sevugan, the campaign spokesman, said in a statement. "This type of politics of division and distraction not only lead to a campaign not worthy of the American people but also has failed to help our families for too long." Obama, who has advocated meetings with leaders of "pariah states" without condition, has explicitly excluded Hamas, noting that it was recognized as a terrorist organization by the US. Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas's spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said on Saturday that McCain's statements showed there was no hope that the US would change its biased foreign policy. "Everyone is afraid of Hamas," he said. "Now Hamas has become a heated topic in the US presidential election campaign." Abu Zuhri said the statements also showed that the Republican Party had become a burden for the American people and their leadership. "The Americans are continuing with their policy of absolute support for Israel at the expense of the Arabs and Palestinians," he said. "That's why there is no hope that the US foreign policy would change. In addition, they are continuing to incite against the Palestinians and their resistance groups."