From NBC's Mark Murray
In recent days, McCain has taken some critical -- and, some might argue, personal -- shots at Obama. On Sunday, McCain questioned the tenuous association Obama has with the former '60s radical William Ayers. Yesterday, he delivered a jab at Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright. (Responding to questions about the endorsement he received from the controversial pastor John Hagee, the Arizona senator said, "I didn't attend Pastor Hagee's church for 20 years.")
And today, on a call with conservative bloggers, McCain said this: "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. So apparently has Danny Ortega and several others. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare... If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas I think people can make judgments accordingly."
McCain was referring to a the favorable comment a Hamas adviser recently made of Obama. But Obama has criticized the terrorist group and has said he would not meet with them.
Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan responded to McCain's comment on Obama and Hamas. "We want to take Senator McCain at his word that he wants to run a respectful campaign, but [it] is becoming increasingly difficult when he continually tries to use the politics of association and makes claims he knows not to be true to advance his campaign. This type of politics of division and distraction, not only lead to a campaign not worthy of the American people, but also has failed to help our families for too long."
Sevugan also points to this Obama camp statement that was made after the Hamas adviser made his remarks -- a statement the McCain campaign should have known of. "Senator Obama has repeatedly rejected and denounced the actions of Hamas, a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of many innocents, that is dedicated to Israel's destruction. As president, Obama will work with Israel to isolate terrorist groups like Hamas, target their resources, and support Israel's right and capability to defend itself from any attack."
*** UPDATE *** McCain spokesman Brian Rogers defends McCain's statement earlier today with this statement. "This is a legitimate issue for the American people to think about. The reason for Hamas' praise of Senator Obama's foreign policy is his commitment to meet unconditionally with Iran -- a nation whose president denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, funds terrorists and sends weapons to Iraq to kill American soldiers. Senator Obama's positions present a radical departure from the longstanding bipartisan consensus for isolating rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea.
"It is not only responsible to raise these critical issues in this election, but it would be the height of irresponsibility not to have this discussion with the American people."