AP reported McCain "didn't embrace the [bitch] epithet" not that he called the question "excellent"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

The Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain "chuckled in response to" a supporter's question, "How do we beat the bitch?" -- presumably referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- but that he "didn't embrace the epithet." The article further noted that "[a] few minutes later he said he respects Clinton, a New York senator and colleague." However, the article made no mention of the fact that McCain first called the question "excellent" and then pointed to a Rasmussen poll that he said showed him beating Clinton in a head-to-head matchup before saying, "I respect Senator Clinton."

A November 17 Associated Press article claimed that when a questioner at a recent campaign event in Hilton Head, South Carolina, asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), "How do we beat the bitch?" -- presumably referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) -- McCain "chuckled in response to the voter's question, but didn't embrace the epithet." The article further reported, "A few minutes later he said he respects Clinton, a New York senator and colleague." However, the article made no mention of the fact that McCain first called the question "excellent" and then pointed to a Rasmussen poll that he said showed him beating Clinton in a head-to-head matchup before saying, "I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat [sic] Party." Additionally, the article uncritically reported that "Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Saturday said he won't follow his rivals' lead in taking personal shots at Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, and that voters seeking a candidate who will do that should look elsewhere," despite McCain's previous "personal shots" at Clinton.

A November 14 article in The Hill also discussed the incident without reporting that McCain said that it was an "excellent question," as Media Matters for America noted.

In the wake of the incident in which the McCain questioner referred to Clinton as "the bitch," Media Matters also noted that the Politico's Mike Allen, while discussing McCain's comments, told CNN's Kiran Chetry on the November 14 edition of American Morning, "All right. But what Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that?" Additionally, as Talking Points Memo Media reporter-blogger Greg Sargent noted, reporter Katharine Q. Seelye wrote in a November 16 New York Times article that the McCain campaign "episode may remind voters that many people have strong feelings about Mrs. Clinton and make them question whether they want to live with animosity and polarization." Seelye also wrote that the episode is "a reminder that many voters view Mrs. Clinton as divisive."

While the AP article repeated McCain's assertion that he "won't ... tak[e] personal shots" at Clinton, Media Matters has documented McCain's previous personal shots at Clinton, including naming a nursing school's training dummy "Hillary" during another recent campaign appearance in South Carolina. Additionally, in 1998, while appearing at a Republican fundraiser, McCain reportedly made what New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called "his disgusting jape": "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." McCain reportedly apologized to President Bill Clinton for the comment.

From the November 17 Associated Press article:

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Saturday said he won't follow his rivals' lead in taking personal shots at Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, and that voters seeking a candidate who will do that should look elsewhere.

"I think people want a respectful debate and a respectful discussion. And if they don't, then obviously, I'm not the person to be their candidate," McCain told reporters in response to questions about criticism of Clinton by Republican rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

"Legitimate policy differences, those should be debated and discussed," McCain said. "But I don't think you should take shots at people, like imitating her voice. I'm serious, I'm not sure what you gain by doing that."

The Arizona senator's comments come days after he faced criticism for not repudiating a voter in South Carolina who called Clinton a "bitch." McCain chuckled in response to the voter's question, but didn't embrace the epithet. A few minutes later he said he respects Clinton, a New York senator and colleague.

His campaign, though, used news coverage of the incident to launch a fundraising e-mail. A spokesman for McCain said it brought the GOP candidate his single-highest day for online donations. A figure was not immediately available.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
Associated Press
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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