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McCain quick to discount radio host's remarks

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Samantha Hayes, Washington, D.C.

February 27, 2008

     Today's cartoon in the Cincinnati Enquirer shows Senator John McCain telling a reporter that he has "reconsidered his position on torture." Bill Cunningham, a local conservative radio talk show host, is drawn dangling by chains above three sharks.

     This is obviously not how McCain's campaign organizers thought Tuesday's stop in Cincinnati would turn out.

     Bill Cunningham has a daily show that airs in the tri-state area and he is apparently well known for attracting controversy. Tuesday, he did just that in the national spotlight.

     Cunningham took the stage to introduce John McCain and in his introductory remarks, attacked both of McCain's Democratic rivals, especially Barack Obama, calling him a "hack, Chicago-style Daly politician." He used Obama's middle name "Hussein" several times and said, "all is going to be right with the world when the great prophet from Chicago takes the stand, and the world leaders who want to kill us will simply be singing Kumbaya around the table of Barack Obama."

     It's being reported in the Cincinnati media that Cunningham left shortly after speaking to host his WLW-AM talk show at 12:30 p.m.

Cunningham later told the Enquirer he talks the same way about Obama on his broadcast, including the frequent reference to Obama's middle name.

     John McCain was quick to respond. He told reporters after learning of Cunningham's comments that he wanted to disassociate himself. "I absolutely repudiate such comments," said McCain, "and again I will take full responsibility. it will never happen again. It will never happen again."

     Obama's campaign also responded saying "McCain's remarks were appreciated: "It is a sign that if there is a McCain-Obama general election, it can be intensely competitive but the candidates will attempt to keep it respectful and focused on issues."

     Cunningham told CNN anchor John Roberts he was instructed to fire up the crowd. "And I did. In fact, when I left, John, the crowd was cheering, All was well. No problem whatsoever until about an hour later . . .when John McCain threw me under the bus, under the Straight Talk Express. I got thrown under the bus." 

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