Anti-War Protesters Heckle McCain at Hispanic Conference

By Jennifer Parker

Jul 14, 2008 5:46pm

ABC News’ Jennifer Duck Reports: Sen. John McCain addressed a conference of the National Council of La Raza in San Diego a day after his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama appeared before the nation’s largest Latino civil rights group.

Less than a minute into his speech protesters shouted repeatedly, “Bring our sons home.”

Watch part of McCain’s speech HERE.

McCain was in the middle of a sentence talking about respect for Hispanic heritage when the small protest in the back of the room caused him to stop abruptly and say, “this happens every once in a while.”

After the disruption ceased, McCain went off script saying, “You know my friends, the one thing I say in all of these town hall meetings that I have been having — hundreds and hundreds across America.  The one thing Americans want us to do is stop yelling at each other.”

McCain then attacked Obama for not participating in a town hall discussion at the conference.  The McCain campaign offers up town halls weekly to the Obama campaign. 

However, the Latino crowd applauded every time the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate’s name was mentioned.

“I know many of you are Democrats — regrettably — and many of you would usually vote for the presidential candidate of that party,” McCain said as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause before he could finish his sentence meant to rally Hispanic voters to his campaign.

After the applause died down, McCain continued with a smile, “I know I must work hard to win your votes, but you have always given me a respectful hearing, and I appreciate it.”

McCain said he won 75 percent of the Hispanic vote in his last Arizona Senate seat re-election and talked about a leadership award he received from the group before mentioning his Democratic rivals again.

“Senator Obama is a fine man, and an inspiring public figure. All Americans should be proud of his success,” McCain said to an Obama-friendly crowd.  “I also greatly admire Senator Hillary Clinton, and value her friendship,” he added as the crowd exploded into cheers and applause.  “She, too, would have been a very worthy opponent. But I intend to compete for your votes by continuing to earn your trust.”

McCain also slammed Obama for not agreeing to debate with him in more town-hall style debates.

"You know my friends this is the third [Latino] organization Sen. Obama and I appeared before.  And a lot of Americans have expressed their frustrations with the sound bites,  the charges back and forth, the cable monster that has to have a new story every hour," he said. "I asked sen Obama to have a town hall meeting.  To come here with me and share the same stage.  The same stage to respond to your questions and comments, you hopes dreams and aspirations and yet he refused to do that."

McCain fired back at Obama who accused the Arizona senator Sunday of abandoning his effort toward comprehensive immigration reform during the Republican primaries to appeal to the conservative wing of the GOP.

"I feel I must, as they say, correct the record," McCain said. "I took my lumps for it without complaint. My campaign was written off as a lost cause. I did so not just because I believed it was the right thing to do for Hispanic Americans. It was the right thing to do for all Americans. That’s why I did it."

Blasting Obama for his votes on various amendments to the failed comprehensive immigration reform legislation, McCain said, "Sen. Obama declined to cast some of those tough votes. He voted for and even sponsored amendments that were intended to kill the legislation, amendments that Sen. Kennedy and I voted against. I never ask for any special privileges from anyone just for having done the right thing. Doing my duty to my country is its own reward. But I do ask for your trust that when I say, I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform, I mean it. I mean it."

Read more about McCain and Obama’s attempt to woo Latino voters HERE.

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