This is pretty extraordinary: McCain did an interview with a Spanish national radio network, in which he either:(1) Refused to meet with Spain’s prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero because he equates Zapatero with “enemies of America” like Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro; and/or(2) Refused to say he’d meet with Zapatero because he didn’t know who Zapatero was; and/or(3) Failed to realize that Spain isn’t in Latin America.
The interview was conducted in English but translated simultaneously into Spanish. If you understand Spanish you should definitely give it a listen. After some questions about the economy and immigration the interviewer asks McCain about his views on Venezuela. McCain replies with some predictably harsh words about Hugo Chavez’s disregard for human rights and free market principles, and points out that unlike Obama he has said he’ll refuse to meet with Chavez or other enemies of America without preconditions. He’s then asked about Bolivia and says identical things about Evo Morales. A bit later, he’s asked about Cuba, and he says the same things about Raul Castro.
Finally at the end of the interview he’s asked what seems like a completely pro forma question about whether if he’s elected he’ll invite the head of the Spanish government, Zapatero, to the White House. McCain, without responding to the question, says that he’s willing to meet with Latin American leaders who want to promote democracy, respect human rights etc. He then tries to change the subject by talking about what a great job President Calderon of Mexico is doing in fighting the war on drugs.
Clearly taken aback, the interviewer repeats the question, saying yes she understands, but is McCain willing to meet with “the prime minister of Spain, Zapatero.” (McCain is doing an interview with Spanish national radio, so you’d think he might have done five minutes of prep work on subtle issues such as “who is this country’s current leader?”). McCain merely repeats what he said before about wanting to work with Latin American leaders, etc.
So she asks a third time, does this include Zapatero. McCain dodges the question, saying he needs to study the issue, but that he wants to meet with Latin American leaders who support the same goals he does.With something close to evident exasperation, the interviewer says, “Yes Senator, but now we are speaking of Europe, not Latin America” (it’s clear she’s getting the impression that McCain doesn’t know where Spain is). But McCain repeats the same answer a fourth time! The interviewer gives up and the interview ends.
It seems, from the bits of his voice you can hear behind the translation, that McCain is tired and confused, and perhaps he simply doesn’t know who Zapatero is, and is afraid of making a “gaffe,” where he unwittingly agrees to meet with some crazy leftist dictator of an obscure banana republic. Or maybe “Zapatero” sounded suspiciously like “Zapatista” to him.Anyway it’s too bad this is complicated by translation issues, because it’s really shocking to hear how confused and dodgy his answers at the end of the interview are.
Update: Here’s the original English language version of the interview.