John McCain just completed a conference call with bloggers in which he reiterated his call for a series of town hall debates with Barack Obama beginning next week, questioned the sincerity of Obama's shift on describing Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, and then sparred with Quin Hillyer.
McCain discussed the letter he sent to Obama requesting that they have 10 town hall style debates beginning on June 12 in New York, and continuing through the Democratic convention. He said the agreement would be along the lines of the one that Barry Goldwater and John F. Kennedy had struck for the 1964 presidential election before JFK's assassination.
Asked whether this was just a ploy to drag Obama into a format that he excels at and avoid the long speeches that he is at a disadvantage under.
"I think it's the best format by far," McCain said of town hall meetings. "It's the old form of how we participate in a democracy…The American people…want a great debate. I don't think they want to hear long speeches, to tell you the truth, that's why I keep mine short."
Quin asked McCain about the fact that conservatives have had problems not just that he has had disagreements with him, but with his tone, and the fact that he not only questions their ideas, but their motives.
"I fundamentally disagree with your premise, I've treated everybody with respect, and I will continue to do so," McCain responded.
Quin followed up by citing specific examples on immigration, such as McCain calling opponents of his approach "nativists" or likening them to supporters of Jim Crow.
"No, I never said anybody was a supporter of Jim Crow," McCain shot back. "Please don't allege that…I never mentioned those two words now that I can ever recall."
I'll let Quin speak for himself, but my initial search suggests that McCain was right about having never used those words. The closest thing I could find was this video of a floor speech in which McCain argued that legal immigrants should be allowed to qualify for a certain tax credit. He said he didn't understand those who would want an "indefensible double standard," and asked, "What's next, are we going to say work-authorized immigrants have to ride in the back of the bus?"
Jennifer Rubin aksed McCain about Obama's about face on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Last fall, he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment designating it as a terrorist group, but identified its Quds Forces operating in Iraq as a terrorist group in his speech to AIPAC this morning.
"He has switched on a number of issues, but remarkable on this one, " McCain said. "He was very categorical about his position, and now he goes before AIPAC and tries to change his position, he's trying to change his position on sitting down without preconditions on Ahmadinejad, he's softening his opposition to the surge. He's going through a lot of evolutions here, and I don't think the American people will buy it, to tell you the truth."
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