Which Candidate Do Terrorists Support?

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Such was the subject of a McCain campaign conference call today featuring senior foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann and former CIA director Jim Woolsey. The stated purpose of the call was to discuss a Washington Post story this morning which, in a “rather irresponsible and quite outrageous fashion,” said campaign aide Michael Goldfarb, “tried to claim” that Al Qaeda might actually prefer John McCain over Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential election. Scheunemann complained that the story cites just one post on the Al Qaeda-linked website calling for McCain’s victory, and yet the Post decided that was enough to run a story implying that jihadists support McCain’s election. What about the spokesman for Hamas, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi, Scheunemann complained, all of whom, to varying degrees, have stated their preference for Obama over McCain? “The Washington Post did not find time to write about that,” Scheunemann fumed.

In other words, the call had two purporses: first, complain about what was, in their view, a poorly reported news article that left the “outrageous” impression that some of the world’s worst people support McCain; and second, to promulgate the impression that, in fact, it is Barack Obama who is supported by terrorists. As Scheunemann said, “If we’re going to talk about who has support from terrorist groups…”

What Woolsey and Scheunemann made clear, however, is that they didn’t have any problem with linking an American presidential candidate to support from terrorists. Their problem was merely that the Post article was making the link to the wrong guy.

Addendum: when Andrea Mitchell of NBC asked about polls showing that voters are concerned about Sarah Palin’s lack of qualifications, Goldfarb cut Scheunemann off before he could answer and Scheunemann chided Mitchell for not asking about the call’s stated topic of discussion. (Update: I heard wrong; according to Goldfarb, it wasn’t he but Scheunemann who responded to Mitchell directly.)