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McCain picks up Hamas-Obama linkage

John McCain said voters should draw judgments from a report that Hamas favors Barack Obama.

“I think it’s very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States,” Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.), the putative Republican presidential nominee, said in a conference call Friday with conservative bloggers, in response to a question from Jennifer Rubin of Commentary magazine.

Saying that he would be “Hamas’ worse nightmare” McCain added: “If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas, I think people can make judgments accordingly.”

Obama, who has advocated meetings with leaders of pariah states, has explicitly excluded Hamas, noting that it is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

The report arises from an interview with Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, the former Palestinian Authority prime minister who heads a Hamas faction. “We like Mr. Obama,” Yousef said in the interview with WABC, and then added a sentence lacking a critical verb: “We hope that he will the election.” Yousef also compares Obama to John F. Kennedy, saying he will improve the United States’ standing in the world.

The WABC interviewers had raised Obama in the context of the Illinois senator’s rejection of former President Jimmy Carter’s attempts to nudge Israel and Hamas into talks; they did not ask Yousef his opinions of McCain or of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is battling Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Nonetheless, a number of blogs have now touted the interview as Hamas’ endorsement of Obama.

McCain is not immune from bizarre endorsements; a website, Americans for John McCain-David Duke 2008, is dedicated to persuading McCain to name Duke, the white supremacist, as his vice presidential candidate.

The Obama campaign excoriated McCain for his comments. “We want to take Senator McCain at his word that he wants to run a respectful campaign, but that is becoming increasingly difficult when he continually tries to use the politics of association and makes claims he knows not to be true to advance his campaign,” Hari Sevugan, the campaign spokesman, said in a statement.

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