John McCain made comments seeming to suggest that Spain is a rogue state in Latin America, in an interview with a Spanish-language station. But his campaign says he meant to take a firm stance toward the European country.
When asked whether he would invite the Spanish prime minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero to the White House he said:
McCain: All I can tell you is that I have a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us, and standing up to those who are not, and that's judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America, and the entire region.
Question: OK . . . what about you, I'm talking about Europe?
McCain: What about me what?
Question: OK . . . are you willing to meet with him if you are elected president?
McCain: I am willing to meet with any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are for human rights, democracy, and freedom, and I will stand up to those that do not.
McCain's foreign policy adviser followed up, saying McCain's answer was intentional. To see what he said, read more.
Adviser Randy Sheunemann wrote to the Washington Post: "The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and ID'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with Prime Minister Zapatero in this interview." The campaign also noted that Zapatero pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.
The story is getting huge in Spain, with one newspaper explaining that "In the best-case scenario, [his answer] demonstrates his ignorance with respect to Zapatero." What do you think — is it worse for McCain to come off as confused, or chilly toward Spain, which is a NATO ally with almost 1,000 troops in Afghanistan?