John McCain called Sarah Palin a “threat to the left-wing feminist liberal movement” and passed up an opportunity to criticize Barack Obama’s relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a “tele-town hall” with Jewish leaders and supporters Sunday morning.
McCain also discussed his views on the status of Jerusalem, saying in his opening statement that “Jerusalem remains undivided” and then repeating twice that the city “is undivided and must remain the capital of Israel” – seeming to avoid a future commitment on the city’s unity by only utilizing the present tense. He added that he would “never press Israel into making concessions that would endanger its security.”
Then, at the end of the call, he asked Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who had introduced McCain on the call, to “mention again our view” on the status of Jerusalem. Lieberman noted the trip he and McCain had taken to the Jewish state in March, in which they talked about that issue with Israeli leaders, and said Jerusalem’s status was one of the “matters to be discussed between Israelis and Palestinians if there’s ever genuine negotiations.” Lieberman then added that McCain knows the “historic Jewish claim” to the city and “it’s clear he will not be included in efforts to divide Jerusalem.”
(Taken as a whole, this appears to mean that while McCain would not support a division of Jerusalem, he also would allow the Israelis to make their own decision on the issue in any future negotiations. This is similar to Obama’s position. The Democrat originally told AIPAC that Jerusalem “must remain undivided,” then the next day said that it should be a matter left to negotiations.)
Lieberman did emphasize that McCain has promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “as soon as he becomes president,” a pledge Obama has not made.
McCain was asked by American-born Israeli Rabbi Shlomo Riskin why he hadn’t raised Obama’s close association with the controversial Wright, which Riskin said he found much more problematic than Obama’s affiliations with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers or ACORN – which has been accused of voter registration fraud. McCain responded that the “issue of Pastor Wright is pretty well known by the American people.” On the other hand, he said, “We need to know more about” the Ayers and ACORN matters.
In response to questions about Palin, the Republican nominee said his vice presidential selection threatened the “left-wing feminist liberal movement” because she’s the mother of five children as well as a “reformer, a conservative, a tax-cutter and a spending cutter.”
Lieberman, calling her “very able,” then joined in to say that while Palin “holds some positions on social issues which, I’ll be honest, I don’t agree with,” she “holds them in a very respectful way.”
“She respects people who come to the other position,” he said, and “I find her not to be ideological in a rigid sense. She’s a practical problem solver.”
He added that the vice presidential nominee “has a deep love for the state of Israel” equal to McCain’s.
The “tele-town hall” was billed as a meeting with Jewish leaders from various organizations, but judging from the questioners it appeared the audience included many backers of the candidate. Just one of the five questioners identified himself as being affiliated with a Jewish organization (one questioner said he worked for Agudath Israel) and at least four of the questions came from men and women who identified themselves as supporters of McCain.