So John McCain granted an interview to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, which is interesting in itself since he's basically shut out the American press, to the point that reporters staged a rally to get McCain out from the front of the campaign plane (which is completely pathetic).
So he gives this interview, and he's asked about some Latin American hot spots, like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba. And then the reporter turns back to Spain, and... well, look:
Then the interviewer switches gears and asks about Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister. And McCain replies -- very loose translation -- that he'll establish close relations with our friends and stand up to those who want to do us harm. The interviewer has a double take and seems to think McCain might be confused. So she asks it again. But McCain sticks to the same evasive answer.
I don't speak Spanish, but you can hear the tape of the interview here. Those who have heard it agree that it sounds like McCain either doesn't know Spain is in Europe, doesn't know Spain is a NATO ally, or doesn't know who Zapatero is. John Aravosis thinks that McCain might have thought he heard "Zapatista" as in the Mexican insurgents.
When asked about Spain and Zapatero, by a Spanish reporter for a Spanish newspaper, McCain responded about Mexico and Latin America. A reader suggested something that Josh had already considered, that perhaps McCain thought the reporter was talking about the Zapatistas in Mexico, the guerilla group. But that's not possible as the reporter clearly said she was talking about Spain and Spain's leader, Zapatero. She told McCain this twice. Let me tell you exactly what she asked McCain (per the translation):
"Senator, finally, let's talk about Spain. If you're elected president, would you invite President Zapatero to meet with you in the White House?"
McCain then gives this odd answer about America's friends and America's enemies. He also, oddly, talks about Mexico (why Mexico? The question was about Spain) and how he'd invite friendly leaders to the White House. She then asks him again, would that invitation include President Zapatero? He says again that he'd have to review relations first, blah blah. She then says again, "so you'd have to wait to see, so would you meet with him in the White House?" He again repeats his weird statement about friends and enemies. McCain also throws in, oddly, to the Spanish reporter, when she's asking him about meeting the Spanish president, a line about the importance of our relationship with Latin America (this is now the second time he answered a question about meeting the president of Spain with an answer about Latin America). She then says to McCain one last time:
"Okay, but I'm talking about Europe - the president of Spain, would you meet with him?"
This time, there was no room for confusion. McCain then gives this very bizarre answer:
"I will meet with any leader who has the same principles and philosophy as us in terms of human rights, democracy, and freedom and I will stand up to those who do not."
Zapatero is a bit of a leftist, but he remains an American ally. Sounds to me like McCain doesn't know who the hell he is. This is supposed to be the experienced warrior who knows the global scene. And he's practically caused an international incident in Spain. Wow.
No wonder he's being hid from the press. He's so deathly afraid of making a mistake. Someone needs to ask the campaign about this.
...there's now an English-language version which has been released.
At first I thought this could have been because of a faulty phone line, but no, the reporter was in the room with McCain in Miami. Clearly he has no idea who Zapatero is. He thinks this it's someone allied with Mexico, and he reverts back to his boilerplate answer about meeting with leaders who respect democracy. He didn't understand that she said "Europe" in her thick Spanish accent.
It sounds really bad.