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The Real Story Behind John McCain’s Famous Campaign Rally Moment

He cut off a supporter who had termed Barack Obama an Arab, but there are reasons why he needed to step in.

It was one of Sen. John McCain’s finest political moments.

At a rally for his presidential bid late in 2008 campaign, an audience member backing the Arizona Republican tells him she doesn’t trust his opponent, then-Sen. Barack Obama and insists that the Illinois Democrat is an Arab.

McCain didn’t let her finish. Instead, he shook his head, took the microphone away from her and did something that would have seemed unimaginable during the most recent presidential election: He politely defended his opponent.

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign issue is all about,” he said, prompting applause from some other audience members at the gathering in Minnesota.

The short exchange was a shining moment for McCain that gained attention at the time. Instead of indulging in his supporter’s falsehood, he corrected her and showed grace toward his political foe. And it wasn’t an isolated moment.

At the same rally, the crowd earlier had booed McCain’s response to another supporter who said that Obama “cohorts with domestic terrorists” and that Americans would have to fear an Obama presidency. McCain said Obama was a “decent person” and that there would be no reason to be scared if he won the White House.

McCain displayed character and civility that day, as he showed similarly throughout much of his military and political career. Clips from that rally had periodically resurfaced even before his death, as he publicly feuded with President Donald Trump ― who in his short political career has become known for mocking and insulting his opponents and encouraging his supporters to do the same.

The moments were guaranteed to be shared again following his death on Saturday.

Still, context is needed about that rally and the vitriol toward Obama that surfaced at it.

McCain’s campaign and his controversial running mate, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had disparaged Obama over his acquaintanceship with William Ayers, a domestic terrorist during the Vietnam War era, and exaggerated the link between the two. A campaign ad from a group opposing Obama also played up the link between him and Ayers, who was part of the radical, left-wing group Weather Underground responsible for a series of bombings that happened when Obama was a child.

Palin’s speeches also often inspired rage, with some in her audiences yelling “kill him,” “treason” or “terrorist” at the mention of Obama. Some speakers at McCain-Palin events used his middle name, “Hussein,” in what was clearly intended as a way to question his patriotism ― and which also fueled the birther conspiracy theory.

Writing about the campaign atmosphere at the time, then-New York Times columnist Frank Rich noted that when McCain, during his appearances, “asks the crowd ‘Who is the real Barack Obama?’ it’s no surprise that someone cries out ‘Terrorist.’”

“This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from [Bill] Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today,” Rich wrote.

And even as McCain’s responses to the barbs directed at Obama during the Minnesota rally 10 years ago garner renewed praise, some noted that he could have made a broader point. When the woman refers to Obama as an Arab and McCain says, “No ... he’s a decent family man, citizen,” without mentioning that that Arabic-speaking people can also be decent citizens.

 

McCain’s campaign later condemned the offensive comments made at the Minnesota event, calling them “inappropriate rhetoric.”

Eventually, in his memoir, McCain revealed that he regretted choosing Palin as his running mate instead of then-Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who labeled himself at that point an “independent Democrat.”

Despite their contentious 2008 campaign, McCain and Obama maintained a mutual respect for each other. While conceding to Obama on the night of the election, McCain stopped his supporters from booing his opponent and said he admired how Obama “inspired the hopes of so many millions of Americans.”

McCain has reportedly asked Obama to give a eulogy at his funeral. In a statement released after McCain’s death, Obama’s regard for the senator was clear.

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own,” Obama wrote. “At John’s best, he showed us what that means.”

McCain, for his part, offered a typically candid assessment when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper in 2017 how he wanted to be remembered: “He served his country and not always right. Made a lot of mistakes. Made a lot of errors, but served his country. And I hope we could add honorably.”

Rudy Giuliani Stuns NBC’s Chuck Todd: ‘Truth Isn’t Truth’

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“Mr. Mayor, do you realize... this is going to become a bad meme,” Todd told the president’s lawyer.

udy Giuliani on Sunday gave another eyebrow-raising TV interview, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday he’s concerned about special counsel Robert Mueller interviewing President Donald Trump because the “truth isn’t the truth.”

The president’s attorney, appearing on “Meet The Press,” continued to attack the credibility of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice.

“Look, I’m not going to be rushed into having [Trump] testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani told Todd. “When you tell me that... he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry. Well, that’s so silly, because it’s somebody’s version of the truth ― not the truth.”

Todd, visibility perplexed, interrupted: “Truth is truth.” But Giuliani frantically fired back, prompting laughter from Todd.

″No it isn’t! Truth isn’t truth!” Giuliani responded. “The president of the United States says, ‘I didn’t ―’”

“Mr. Mayor, do you realize... this is going to become a bad meme,” Todd interrupted.

Though Trump has expressed interest in having Mueller’s team interview him, Giuliani has pushed back against the idea, warning his client that he could be caught in a “perjury trap.” For instance, he has repeatedly claimed Mueller could accuse Trump of lying under oath if he denies having had a discussion in February 2017 with then-FBI Director James Comey about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“Trump says, ‘I didn’t tell him.’ And the other guy says that he did say it,” Giuliani said Sunday. “Which is the truth?”

Giuliani on Sunday also doubled down on Trump’s stunning admission earlier this month that the infamous meeting in June 2016 at New York’s Trump Tower that included the president’s eldest son and a Russian with links to the Kremlin was to get dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“The meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about Clinton,” Giuliani told NBC. “That was the original intention of the meeting. It turned out to be a meeting about another subject and it was not pursued at all.”

The Trump camp initially claimed the meeting among Donald Trump Jr, a Kremlin-linked lawyer and others was to discuss the adoption of Russian children by Americans. 

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Melania Trump’s Parents Likely Became U.S. Citizens Through ‘Chain Migration’ Donald Trump Blasts

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President Donald Trump has personally benefited from the family-based immigration he rails against.

President Donald Trump should have been moved this week when our nation of immigrants accepted two new Americans: first lady Melania Trump’s parents, Amalia and Viktor Knavs. But their path to citizenship likely goes against everything their son-in-law supposedly believes in.

The Knavs were sworn in as U.S. citizens on Thursday in Lower Manhattan, The New York Times reported. Melania Trump, originally from Slovenia, sponsored her parents so they could obtain a green card before applying for U.S. citizenship. The first lady herself was granted citizenship in 2006.

“It went well and they are very grateful and appreciative of this wonderful day for their family,” the Knavs’ lawyer, Michael Wildes, said in a statement.

When the Times asked Wildes if the Knavs obtained their citizenship through family-based immigration ― often pejoratively referred to as “chain migration” ― Wildes was vague.

“I suppose,” he told the publication. “It’s a dirty ― a dirtier word. It stands for a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification.”

The idea that family-based immigration could be labeled as “dirty” might have a lot to do with the Knavs’ son-in-law. In November, Trump railed against the process on Twitter.

“CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!” he tweeted. “Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!” 

Last December, when a legal U.S. resident from Bangladesh attempted an ISIS-inspired bombing in New York City, Trump blamed “chain migration” in part, saying there needed to be restrictions. He argued, without evidence, that “chain migration” lets in suspect people.

But as HuffPost’s Roque Planas has pointed out, Trump has personally benefited time and again from the very process he rails against. His ancestors followed family members to the U.S., his Miss Universe business attracted top candidates by agreeing to help obtain green cards or work authorization for their families, and his parents-in-law are likely citizens because of it.

“It’s hard to find talent,” Wildes told HuffPost at the time regarding Miss Universe contestants. “And when they find talent, they generally want to negotiate family members to make sure their lives are more robust and meaningful. … Say we’re soliciting a visa for somebody and that person says, ‘I’m only going to come if you sponsor a visa for myself and green cards for my whole family so I can resettle here.’”

Congratulations are in order for the Knavs. Hopefully, their citizenship will inspire their son-in-law to better appreciate the rich, continued diversity that new immigrants bring to the U.S. But that seems unlikely.

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