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McCain's mother laments: 'They won't let me talk'
Nick Juliano and David Edwards
Published: Wednesday September 3, 2008

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On a few occasions during this campaign season, the let-it-all-hang-out rhetorical style John McCain's 96-year-old mother employs has caused some unwanted distractions for the Republican presidential candidate.

Roberta McCain's gaffes used to seem an endearing marker of the "straight talk" candidate's roots, but just as the GOP message-men have forced their candidate to stick to the script, so are they keeping his mother away from any open microphones, according to Sirius Radio's Michelangelo Signorile.

"They won't let me be interviewed," McCain lamented to the radio host who approached her Tuesday during the Republican convention in St. Paul. "They won't let me talk."

RAW STORY obtained audio of Signorile's aborted interview attempt, which demonstrated the extent to which message control is the name of the game at the GOP's gathering in Minnesota.

The host wasn't even inquiring about anything controversial: "What is it like for you this week?" he asked as McCain's handlers shuffled her away. In a blog post about the incident, Signorile described McCain's facial expression as "pained" and said she looked at him "helplessly, pleadingly," as she was led away for a photo-op alongside would-be First Lady Cindy McCain.

Of course, it's not like their fears that Roberta McCain would say something distracting was completely unfounded. Earlier this year, she let slip her true feelings about the Republican party base her son is now reaching out to in his quest for the White House.

"Holding their nose, they're going to have to take him," McCain said in January before the son she still refers to as "Johnny" emerged as the GOP nominee.

"I'm really popping off," the elder McCain continued, "but he worked like a dog to get Bush reelected. He's backed Bush in everything except Rumsfeld. ... And I've never seen any public recognition of the work that he's done for the Republican Party."

Last year, McCain took a swipe at her son's top rival, Mitt Romney, saying Mormons were to blame for a scandal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

And just last month, the matriarch of the McCain family said her son's "celebrity" ad was "kinda stupid."

The Republican apparatus has been trying to keep McCain away from the press for some time, as Los Angeles Times reporter James Rainey recounted earlier this summer.

But after months waiting in vain for a formal interview, I'm beginning to believe that her son's presidential campaign really isn't interested in getting Roberta McCain and me together for, as the man likes to call it, a little "straight talk."

"They've got me muzzled," Mrs. McCain, 96, said when I phoned the other day. She added with a chuckle: "Now don't you print that. . . . I really don't like to be interviewed."

For her part, McCain was not the only nonagenarian featured at the two parties' late-summer conventions. Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden shared some endearing stories of his 91-year-old mother, Catherine Biden, during his acceptance speech last week.

The elder Biden was not so press shy after her own turn in the spotlight.

"He's a wonderful man, a wonderful son," Biden told a Rocky Mountain News reporter, keeping her remarks simple and uncontroversial. "It's a happy family.... That's pretty much all."

The following audio is from the Michelangelo Signorile Show broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio:

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