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Knight Ridder Washington Bureau – June 2, 2008
WASHINGTON – John McCain told an influential Jewish group Monday that the security of Israel and the United States depends on a tough-minded approach to a potentially nuclear-armed Iran, mocking presidential rival Barack Obama’s pledge to meet with Iranian leaders.
“We hear talk of a meeting with the Iranian leadership offered up as if it were some sudden inspiration, a bold new idea that somehow nobody has ever thought of before,” McCain said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “Yet it’s hard to see what such a summit with President Ahmadinejad would actually gain, except an earful of anti-Semitic rants and a worldwide audience for a man who denies one Holocaust and talks before frenzied crowds about starting another.”
In addition to denying the Holocaust, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and described the predominantly Jewish nation as a “stinking corpse.”
McCain also slammed Obama for refusing to support a nonbinding Senate resolution that designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization because it supports killing American troops in Iraq. When McCain quoted Obama as saying that the resolution sent the “wrong message,” he held up and wiggled his fingers in mock quotation marks.
In a conference call organized by the Obama campaign, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., dismissed McCain’s speech as “nothing different” from the foreign policy of the Bush administration.
“Why should anyone expect (McCain) will have better results than this president has?” Schiff asked. “He continues to cling to a foreign policy that has not made the United States or Israel safer.”
Schiff said “direct engagement” such as Obama’s call for direct, unconditional meetings with Iranian leaders would be a “productive change in policy.”
McCain called for tougher measures that he said would ensure that Iran never developed nuclear weapons, which he said would allow it to pose a threat to Israel’s existence.
Among his proposals:
-U.N.-led political and economic sanctions against Iran.
-An international divestment campaign from companies that do business in Iran.
Painting Obama as soft on Iran serves McCain’s general-election goal of portraying his likely Democratic opponent as too callow and inexperienced for the Oval Office.

(c) 2008, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.

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