The presidential campaign for Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has responded to outrage after Fargo-based radio host Ed Schultz called GOP Senator and opponent John McCain (R-AZ) a "warmonger" at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
"Barack Obama's willingness to stand-down after a surrogate of his campaign callously called John McCain a 'warmonger' demonstrates an incredible comfort with the old-style politics he claims to reject," said McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds.
Bounds points to a January incident in which McCain apologized personally for conservative commentator Bill Cunningham's repeated use of Obama's middle name, Hussein, when referring to him at a McCain event.
"Senator Obama," said Robert Duncan, Republican National Committee chairman, "has an obligation to speak out and publicly reject and denounce -- not applaud -- the shameful and contemptible remarks made by his surrogates."
While Senator Obama thanked Schultz after the crowd warm-up, the New York Timesreports that Obama had not arrived at the event when the comments were made, and was thanking Schultz for his appearance rather than his words. An aide also made a distinction to MSNBC between the two incidents: Cunningham endorsed Senator McCain, and was attending a McCain event, whereas Ed Schultz wasn't, as McCain's camp calls him, Obama's surrogate.
No audio or video is known to exist.
While McCain is a "genuine war hero," said Senator Obama at the Friday event, a McCain presidency would effectively be a third George W. Bush term.
"We can't afford to give John McCain the chance to carry on George Bush's can't-do, won't-do, won't-even-try style of politics," Obama said. "We are a better country than that."
"John McCain is not a warmonger," Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki said later in a statement, "and should not be described as such. He's a supporter of a war that Senator Obama believes should have never been authorized and never been waged."
Later at a campaign appearance in Arizona Saturday, McCain called on Obama to condemn Schultz's use of warmonger.
"I would hope that in keeping with his commitment that Senator Obama would condemn such language, since it was part of his campaign," McCain said. "That kind of language is unnecessary."