John McCain supporter Gayle Quinnell told the crowd at a McCain Rally in Minnesota that "Obama is an Arab." McCain took away the microphone but failed to address Quinnell's unabashed bigotry or the incidents of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-African American bigotry that has become an increasingly regular feature of GOP rallies as the election draws near. "No ma'am," he says. "[Obama's] a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues."
Above, an interview with Quinnell done via streaming cell phone. Interviewers include Noah Kunin, Senior Political Correspondent from The UpTake, Adam Aigner of NBC News and Dana Bash of CNN.
Quinnell said she obtained the information on Obama being an Arab at "her local library" and from a pamphlet obtained at a local McCain campaign office (provided by a fellow volunteer not the campaign itself). She has taken it upon herself to redistribute the information as widely as possible by making copies of the pamphlet and sending it to random names in the phone book.
Gayle Quinnell: I went to the library in Shakopee and I got lots of ... three pages of information about Obama
Adam Aigner of NBC News: And what kind of information did you get?
Quinnell: I got to tell you, you call me. It's a long story. I'm afraid of what's going to happen to this country.
Aigner: What would you think would happen? Do you think it would become Muslim country and what would that mean?
Quinnell: It would be bad
Aigner: So even though Senator McCain told you that he didn't feel that was true and you ought to be more respectful, you still fear that?
Quinnell: I still do. Yeah. I'm not alone. I go to Burnsville, the main Republican headquarters and I do a lot of work over there. A lot of sending out mail and talking to people. And all the people agree with what I'm saying to you about Obama.
Aigner :Then do you feel there are a lot of volunteers for McCain who feel that way?
Quinnell: Yes. A lot of them. In fact I got a letter from another woman that goes over there to Burnsville and she sent me more things about Obama.
Aigner: What was on the letter?
Quinnell: Oh all kinds of bad things about him and how, I mean I have to tell you to call me. It's all bad.
Reporter: Are a lot of people getting this letter and are a lot of people believeing it and is that turning a lot of votes or support for McCain?
Quinnell: Yeah I sent out 400 letters. I went to Kinkos and I got them all printed out. And I sent about 400 letters. I went in the telephone book and sent them out to people. So they can decide if they would want Obama.
Aigner: Can you give me your name again?
Quinnell: Gayle Quinnell and I honestly think that these people hear about this Obama, they wouldn't want him.
Aigner: Because they would know what you know in the letter?
Quinnell: Yeah, he read that letter. In fact when I was standing in line , there were about eight girls, young girls standing in line. And they said "what have you got." I had one of the letters and they said "Give it to me. I want to read it. I want to read it" And they read it. And they just went (shakes head) . They hadn't read it before and they didn't (unintelligible) all that information. To me it's bad news.
Aigner: So maybe if I call you you'll give me one of the letters maybe?
Quinnell: I sure can!
Aigner: You don't have another one on you now?
Quinnell: No I don't. But I can give you what I got and I can give you what she sent me in the mail.
Aigner: I'd be interested to read it.
Aigner: And can you spell your name for me?
Aigner: E-L-L? And Gayle is just...
Aigner: And where you from?
Quinnell: I'm from Shakopee.
Quinnell: Shakopee, Minnesota
Aigner: And and I'm sorry how old are you ma'am?
Quinnell I'm 75
Quinnell: (Nods yes) And I got a lot of grandkids and a lot of kids, I've got five kids. I got seven grandkids and they all think the same way.
(PHONE NUMBER EDITED OUT OF CONVERSATION)
Noah Kunin (The UpTake): Do you volunteer at the Republican Party Headquarters or the McCain Campaign office over in Burnsville?
Quinnell: McCain. McCain Headquarters in Burnsville.
Noah: The McCain headquarters.
Quinnell: It's out over by , over by that post station there.
Noah: Yeah, I know which one you're talking about. And just to be sure to make sure we got your quote OK, you called Obama and Arab terrorist?
Noah: You called him an Arab terrorist? Is that correct? Why do you think he is an Arab?
Quinnell Because his dad is. If you... I'll send you the paper.
Female reporter: His dad is Muslim His dad was Muslim. Barack Obama has never been a Muslim.
Quinnell: No but he's....
Dana Bash of CNN: He's a Christian.
Quinnell: He's not an Arab either, he's a --
Bash: His father was Muslim, and he's a Christian.
Quinnell: Yeah, but he's still got Muslim in him. So that's still part of him. I got all the stuff from the library and I could send you all kinds of stuff on him. In fact....
Bash: What did you think about McCain said. He said he's a decent person.
Quinnell: Well he did have didn't have (unintelligible)... I think McCain wanted to (unintelligible) I don't think he wanted to say anything against him. You know he didn't want to cut him down. That was my way of thinking. I don't think he wanted to cut him down. So he just kind of brushed me off.
Reporter: Plus he criticizes Barack Obama plenty himself, so why wouldn't he do it now?
Quinnell: Well I probably brought up something that he didn't want to talk about.
Reporter: Do you think John McCain thinks that he's Arab? Do you think he knows this stuff that you're saying you know is fact?
Quinnell: I don't know. I don't know. Maybe he doesn't want to bring it up then. I don't know why. Is there some way I can get to you more information.
Bash: Can you wait for me for like five more minutes?
Bash: I want to an interview on camera. Our camera team is occupied right now. What's your name?
Quinnell: Gayle Quinnell (Spells name again)
Bash: In case I lose you, you don't have a cell phone do you?
Quinnell: No I wish I had it on me but I don't.
Bash: See the pretty lady over there with red hair? That's our camera. As soon as she's done , we'll be over there Ok
Reporter: What was your reaction when Senator McCain backed away
Quinnell: What was my reaction? Well when he didn't want to talk about it...