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McCain camp demands apology

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
At a North Dakota Democratic Party fundraiser yesterday, a liberal talk radio show host called McCain "a warmonger," a term that has the McCain campaign pointing fingers at Barack Obama and questioning his commitment to running a positive campaign devoid of personal attacks.

According to pool reports and a local story written by the Grand Forks Herald, Ed Schultz "warmed up the crowd, attacking the Arizona senator as 'a warmonger,' before Obama arrived in the room."

The McCain campaign is demanding an apology. "Barack Obama's willingness to stand-down after a surrogate of his campaign callously called John McCain a 'warmonger' demonstrates an incredible comfort with the old-style politics he claims to reject," McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds said in a written statement.

Bounds pointed out that when Bill Cunningham, conservative talk radio commentator, attacked Obama at a McCain event in January and repeatedly used his middle name, McCain immediately apologized for Cunningham's remarks. "I absolutely repudiate such comments, and again I will take responsibility -- it will never happen again. It will never happen again," McCain said at the time.

"All you can hear right now are crickets," Bounds said of Obama's lack of an apology. He added that McCain apologized even though he had not heard Cunningham's comments himself, indicating that aides had flagged them as inappropriate and took prompt action to ensure that the senator distanced himself from them.

When Obama took the stage yesterday, he thanked Schultz, saying he was "a voice of progressive radio."

An Obama aide says that the senator, who hadn't heard Schultz's remarks, was thanking Schultz for speaking rather than thanking him for his attack on McCain.

The aide also said that the lack of an apology should not be surprising since there are sharp distinctions between the two events, pointing to the fact that Cunningham had endorsed McCain and was speaking at a McCain event.

"This was not our event. He's not our surrogate. And the tone of the remarks were very different," the aide said.

The tone of Schultz's comments and the full extent of his remarks have been hard to judge, since only two pool reporters were allowed into the fundraiser and arrived at the tail end of Schultz's speech. No audio or video of the remarks exists.

*** UPDATE *** Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki says in a statement, "John McCain is not a warmonger and should not be described as such. He's a supporter of a war that Senator Obama believes should have never been authorized and never been waged."