UPDATE: Bob Cunningham is now angry at McCain, and is questioning McCain's claim that he and Cunningham had never met:
Mr. Cunningham later posted a video on his Web site, asserting his right to free speech and referring to Mr. Obama as a "hack Chicago politician from the Daley political machine." He did not use Mr. Obama's middle name.
He added: "I'm angry at McCain. Why would John McCain repudiate me? I've been able to unite McCain and Obama against me. I might become a supporter of Ralph Nader."
The contretemps between Mr. McCain and Mr. Cunningham continued well into the evening, when Mr. Cunningham then announced that he was going to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton. He also said, contrary to Mr. McCain's claim that he had never met Mr. Cunningham, that he had encountered the senator at an earlier Cincinnati fund-raiser. Mr. Cunningham said on CNN that he had twice met Mr. McCain, though he did not explain the circumstances.
Late Tuesday, the McCain campaign acknowledged that the men might have met.
"Senator McCain gave an honest answer," said Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain's senior advisers. "He doesn't recall meeting him. He's at thousands of events. If Mr. Cunningham said he was at the fund-raiser, perhaps he was. He was one of 100,000 people McCain has shaken hands with this year."
At a John McCain town hall today, supporter and local talk radio host Bill Cunningham warmed up the crowd by making repeated reference to Barack Obama's middle name:
"At some point in the near future the media, the stooges from the New York Times, CBS (The Clinton Broadcasting System), NBC (The Nobody But Clinton Network), The All Bill Clinton Channel (ABC), and the Clinton News Network at some point is going to peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama," said controversial conservative commentator Bill Cunningham, an Ohio native.
"That day will come and then you'll know the truth about his business dealings with Rezko, when he got sweetheart deals in Chicago," he added, "and the illegal loans that he received, at some point the media will quit taking sides on this and maybe start covering Barack Hussein Obama the same way they covered Bush, the same way they covered Cheney, and they same way they cover every Republican."
Cunningham also referred to Obama as "hack, Chicago-style politician," according to the Associated Press. Watch it here:
A History Of Attacks: Media Matters points out that the Cunningham has a history of referring to Obama as Barack Hussein Obama. In addition:
During his nationally syndicated radio talk show, Bill Cunningham repeatedly called Sen. Barack Obama, "Barack Mohammed Hussein Obama," even though "Mohammed" is not a part of Obama's name, saying at one point that "it would be a shock" if "Barack Mohammed Hussein Obama can be elected the president of this country in these difficult terrorist times." Cunningham also falsely claimed that Obama "was raised in madrassas in Indonesia" and falsely accused Obama's church of being "black separatist" and "black racist."
Portman Response: Rob Portman, a former Ohio Rep. who is being mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential candidate, followed Cunningham saying:
"Willie, you're out of control again. So, what else is new? But we love him," Portman said. "But I've got to tell you, Bill Cunningham lending his voice to this campaign is extremely important. He did it in 2000, he did it in 2004. It was crucial to victory then and it's even more important this year with his bigger radio audience. So, Bill Cunningham, thank you for lending your voice."
McCain Apologizes: John McCain issued an apology before reporters could ask him about the statements:
"I regret any comments that may be made about these two individuals who are honorable Americans, we just have strong philosophical differences, so I want to disassociate myself from any disparaging remarks that may have been said about them," he said, adding later that "I absolutely repudiate such comments, and again I will take responsibility it will never happen again. It will never happen again."
Obama Response: Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton offered this response:
"We appreciate Senator McCain's remarks. 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 Disowns McCain: Cunningham was not pleased to hear McCain apologized for his behavior. When asked for comment, he replied:
"I've had it with McCain. I'm going to throw my support to Hillary Rodham Clinton."
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