Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

McCain’s Dig at Obama Greeted With Standing Ovation at Aipac Conference

Washington — Senator John McCain delivered some harsh criticism of Senator Barack Obama’s foreign policy at the opening session of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference Monday.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee told the crowd at the annual policy conference of the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse that his Democratic rival’s talk of negotiating with Iran would lead to no results “except an earful of antisemitic rants.”

The Arizona senator received a standing ovation when he blasted Obama for not supporting a Senate resolution demanding the designation of Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terror group. At the time of that vote, Obama said he believed that the resolution, with its talk of structuring the American military presence in Iraq so as to combat Iranian influence there, would send the “wrong message, not only to the world but also to the region, where we should be pursuing direct diplomacy.”

“But here, too, he is mistaken,” McCain told the 7,000 attendees at the Aipac conference. “Holding Iran’s influence in check, and holding a terrorist organization accountable, sends exactly the right message — to Iran, to the region and to the world.”

John McCain was the first presidential candidate to speak in front of the Aipac meeting, which will host Obama and fellow Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton in its closing session Wednesday. Conference attendees were urged in a letter sent out last week, and in opening remarks by Aipac leaders, to provide a warm welcome to all politicians speaking at the conference.

In his speech, McCain focused on the issue of Iran and made an apparent reference to Obama when he mocked the “bold new idea” of directly negotiating with the Iranian government.

“Rather than sitting down unconditionally with the Iranian president or supreme leader in the hope that we can talk sense into them, we must create the real-world pressures that will peacefully but decisively change the path they are on,” McCain said to scattered applause from the crowd.

On the issue of the Iraq war, McCain made an attempt to present the current situation in relation to Israel’s security, arguing that Obama’s call for a gradual troop reduction would cause a “catastrophe” that would “profoundly affect the security of the United States, Israel and our other friends.”

McCain’s reference to the possible danger a withdrawal would pose to Israel was greeted with applause from the audience. A similar case was made last year at the Aipac conference by both Vice President Dick Cheney and by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Aipac’s annual policy conference, which is traditionally one of Washington’s biggest political events, is attracting even more media attention this year, due to the expected appearance of all three presidential candidates.

Obama and Clinton are scheduled to speak at the conference on the morning after the last primary races are concluded. According to Aipac organizers, Clinton is expected to show up regardless of the outcome of the final voting rounds. In his speech at the opening plenary, McCain ignored Clinton altogether and directed his criticism only at Obama.



Thanks for reading this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war and rising antisemitism.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Support our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.