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Public Statements

MSNBC - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): (From videotape.) I've got news for the McCain campaign, the American people are losing right now. They're losing their jobs; they're losing their health care; they're losing their homes; they're losing their savings. I cannot imagine anything more important to talk about than the economic crisis and the --

MR. SHUSTER: That was Barack Obama yesterday claiming that John McCain doesn't want to talk about the economy and is focused instead on personal character attacks. Joining us now from the site of tonight's debate in Nashville is McCain supporter, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee.

And Congresswoman, as the tone gets nastier on both sides, I want to ask you about some things that were shouted to John McCain and Sarah Palin yesterday during their rallies. First, here is John McCain raising questions about Barack Obama yesterday in New Mexico. Watch.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): In short, who is -- who is the real Barack Obama?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Terrorist!

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. SHUSTER: The audience member shouted, "terrorist."

And now here's Sarah Palin talking about Obama's links to a 1960s radical leftie.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK): (From videotape.) According to The New York Times, Bill Ayers is an unrepentant domestic terrorist and part of a group -- he had been part of a group that had launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our United States Capitol. (Jeers, boos.)

MR. SHUSTER: An audience member there was heard shouting, "Kill him!"

Clarify. Does the McCain campaign condone, in any way, the idea that Bill Ayers should be killed, or that Barack Obama is a terrorist?

REP. BLACKBURN: Oh, David, my goodness gracious. You know, one of the things that we're going to talk about in this debate tonight are the issues that are truly affecting the American people, that they want to hear the candidates themselves speak on.

And I think it's great that we're going to have a town hall- style debate. And that we're going to have questions --

MR. SHUSTER: Well, Congressman, what's wrong, then --

REP. BLACKBURN: -- that have submitted by individuals that --

MR. SHUSTER: -- with John McCain or Sarah Palin saying, wait a second, that language, that response is out of bounds. Barack Obama -- we may disagree, but he is not a terrorist. Why not just say that?

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, and you know the thing about that is, if -- I don't know if they heard the remark. I haven't discussed that remark with them. We know things like that aren't acceptable, just like we know that the conduct of William Ayers and the Weather Underground was not acceptable back in the '60s. We know that he and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, spent time basically --

MR. SHUSTER: Look, Congressman, I agree --

REP. BLACKBURN: -- you know, hiding out in the country for --

MR. SHUSTER: -- I think it's a fair point. I think --

REP. BLACKBURN: -- 11 years. But, you know, it's --

MR. SHUSTER: -- it's a very valid, fair point for the McCain campaign to make that. I'm just sort of wondering, when somebody shouts at a rally, "kill him," and then the McCain campaign is made aware, or as when you're made aware that somebody said, "kill him" -- a reference to William Ayers, shouldn't it be incumbent upon all of us to say, you know what, that crosses a line, that's not appropriate?

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, and it is very (unimportant ?) -- it is important that those issues be addressed, but David, here again, you know, I haven't discussed that with the campaign. I don't know if either of them heard those remarks. Certainly, that is not acceptable, just as the conduct of William Ayers was not acceptable; just as the conduct of Bernadine Dohrn was not acceptable; and just as Barack Obama owes an explanation for that tonight.

You know, as we teach our kids, character counts. And that's the program --

MR. SHUSTER: Fair enough --

REP. BLACKBURN: -- that is important in our schools. And --

MR. SHUSTER: Well, fair enough. And Congresswoman, thanks --

REP. BLACKBURN: -- when we look at judgment and --

MR. SHUSTER: -- for addressing that. We appreciate you addressing those remarks and clarifying that that kind of language is not acceptable, even if the topic is acceptable to talk about -- whether it's William Ayers, or anybody else. In any case, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, thank you and enjoy the debate tonight.

REP. BLACKBURN: I will. Thank you.


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