ABC News’s Bret Hovell reports: Offering his strong support for the state of Israel, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., criticized rival Barack Obama and offered a tough line on dealing with Iranian threats in the Middle East in a speech to AIPAC, the largest U.S. Israel lobby.
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He offered what has become a standard attack on Sen. Obama, D-Il., for what McCain calls a willingness to sit down with Iranian leaders unconditionally, a proposal from which Obama has backed away.
“We hear talk of a meeting with the Iranian leadership offered up as if it were some sudden inspiration, a bold new idea that somehow nobody has ever thought of before,” McCain said, seeming to mock Obama’s plan. “Yet it’s hard to see what such a summit with President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad would actually gain.”
McCain said that instead of sitting down to talk with Iran, “we must create the real-world pressures that will peacefully but decisively change the path they are on.”
To that end, the presumptive Republican nominee proposed ramping up sanctions against the regime in Tehran, including financial sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, which McCain said aids in Iranian terrorism proliferation. He also proposed sanctions on Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum.
He also criticized Obama for voting against a Congressional resolution to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.
The Obama campaign responded in a written statement e-mailed to reporters, calling McCain “stubborn,” and his foreign policy plans “dangerous.”
“Instead of recognizing reality, John McCain continues to run on a platform of doubling down on George Bush’s failed policies, while carrying on his divisive brand of politics,” said Hari Sevugan, an Obama spokesman.
McCain referred to Obama several times during his speech, but only twice by name. He did not mention Sen. Hillary Clinton.
The Arizona Republican also expressed skepticism about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with Hamas in control in Gaza.
“A peace process that places faith in terrorists can never end in peace,” McCain said. “And we do no favors to the Palestinian people by conferring approval upon the terrorist syndicate that has seized power in Gaza.”