Washington, D.C-July 10, 2008 – At a campaign event on July 8, Republican presidential candidate Senator McCain reacted to a question referring to an increase in U.S. cigarette exports to Iran during the Bush administration by saying, ”Maybe that’s a way of killing them.”Having elicited some chuckles from the audience, he quickly added that he “meant that as a joke!”
Members of the Iranian American community, many of whom still have family and friends in Iran, justifiably find Senator McCain’s remarks, even as a joke, offensive and insensitive, and believe such remarks are simply not constructive in the face of the volatile state of U.S. – Iran relations. Our community’s feelings about these latest remarks is exacerbated by the fact that at a campaign event last year, Senator McCain casually sang “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” when asked if there is a plan to attack Iran. In the face of criticism for that incident, McCain suggested to those who were upset by it, including many Iranian Americans, to “lighten up!”
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is reaching out to Senator McCain’s campaign to convey our community’s concern over his insensitive remarks.
Senator McCain has had a long and distinguished career of public service, and his presidential campaign has enjoyed the support of many Iranian Americans.It would be unfortunate for Senator McCain to blemish his reputation and erode his support in the Iranian American community by making such insensitive comments that are offensive to Iranian Americans and unbecoming of a presidential candidate.