WASHINGTON – Some are wondering whether John McCain has turned cool toward the Spanish prime minister – or maybe can’t remember him – after confusing comments the Republican presidential candidate made in an interview in Miami.
McCain was asked whether as president he would meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a socialist who was snubbed by the Bush White House after he withdrew Spain’s troops from Iraq in 2004.
McCain had told a Spanish newspaper in April that he wanted to improve relations with the NATO ally. But in Wednesday’s interview with Radio Caracol Miami, later broadcast in Spain, McCain offered a series of noncommittal answers. And at one point, he seemed to suggest that he thought Zapatero might be from Latin America.
“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,” he said. “And that’s judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America and the entire region.”
In the first of four times he was asked whether he would meet with Zapatero, McCain said he intended to talk to cooperative leaders. Then, he went on to talk about Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s anti-narcotics effort.
The Arizona senator is campaigning as the experienced foreign policy hand, and his comments set off a storm of comment from liberal bloggers.
However, Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, said in a statement that McCain was only restating a position on Spain that he had taken before.
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