McCain Apologizes Profusely for ‘Hussein Obama’

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 26, 2008 1:16pm

ABC News’ John Berman reports: Senator John McCain apologized profusely today for comments made by radio host Bill Cunningham who was introducing him at an event in Cincinnati.  Cunningham referred to the Illinois Senator three times as "Barack Hussein Obama."

Watch Cunningham’s introductory remarks HERE, then watch McCain’s apology HERE.

"Americans, now we have a hack Chicago-style Daly politician who is picturing himself as change. When he gets done with you all your are going to have in your pockets is change," Cunningham said of Obama before introducing McCain.

"At some point in the near future the media, the stooges from the New York Times, CBS, the Clinton Broadcasting system, NBC, the nobody but Clinton network, the all Bill Clinton channel, ABC and the Clinton News Network at some point is going to peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama," Cunningham said.

"At some point the media will quit taking sides in this thing and maybe start covering Barack Hussein Obama the same way they covered Bush, the same way they covered Cheney and the same way they cover every Republican," he said.

There was a quick reaction from McCain today.

McCain apologized three separate times for Cunningham’s remarks. He said he takes "responsibility" for him being here but says he has no idea who chose him and says he doesn’t know him and didn’t hear the comments when they were uttered but was told about them before he came on stage.            

“We appreciate Senator McCain’s remarks. It is a sign that if there is a McCain-Obama general election, it can be intensely competitive but the candidates will attempt to keep it respectful and focused on issues,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in an emailed response to reporters today.

His swift reaction was a bit of an evolution for the candidate, who several times this campaign, has had to watch not only his own mouth, but the mouths of those around him.

At an event last November in South Carolina, someone from the audience asked, apparently in reference to Senator Hillary Clinton, "How do we beat the bitch?"  McCain famously missed an opportunity to dress down or criticize the questioner.  Instead, he laughed, asked if he could give a translation, and said, "that’s an excellent question." 

Maybe he learned a bit from that moment.

Later, in New Hampshire, he sat beside his 95 year-old mother, Roberta, when she seemed to take a swipe not only at former Gov. Mitt Romney, but all Mormons. 

Roberta McCain was commenting on Romney’s effort to turnaround the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.  "As far as the Salt Lake City thing," she said, "he’s a Mormon and the Mormons of Salt Lake City had caused that scandal. And to clean that up, it’s not a subject."

In that instance, Senator McCain jumped right in, "The views of my mother are not necessarily the views of mine."  His mother wasn’t happy about the apology, saying, "Well, that’s my view. You asked me."

Later in the interview, McCain once again tried to smooth over his mother’s remarks.

"Could I just reemphasize one point? I think Mormons are great people. I think it should in no way be a factor in consideration or lack of consideration for Governor Romney,” he said. “I think it should never be a consideration and I know he will be judged on his record. He’s a fine and decent man and a family man.”

Wonder if Bill Cunningham would ever put Roberta McCain on his radio show?

ABC News’ Ron Claiborne and Bret Hovell contributed to this report.

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