Bill Cunningham, a conservative radio talk show host, was responsible for introducing Arizona Senator John McCain at a rally in Cincinnati on Tuesday. In his introductory comments, Cunningham made a point on three separate occasions of referring specifically to Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, and went on to call him a "Chicago-style Daley politician who's picturing himself as change. When he gets done with you, all you're going to have in your pocket is change." McCain was very quick to distance himself from the comments as soon as he approached the press at the event. And despite not having made the comments himself he stated:
"Whatever suggestion was made that was in any way disparaging to the integrity, character, honesty of either Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton was wrong and I condemn it. I will take responsibility and I apologize for it. I did not know about these remarks but I take responsibility for them. I repudiate them. My entire campaign I have treated Senator Obama and Senator Clinton with respect. I will continue to do that throughout this campaign. I want to dissociate myself with any disparaging remarks that may have been said about them."
McCain went on to describe both Obama and Clinton as "honorable Americans." And in response to a question about whether it was ever appropriate to exploit the fact that Obama's middle name is "Hussein" McCain answered -- "No, it is not. Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."
As political apologies go this one was very good -- it was not only immediate but very specific with respect to his decision to accept full responsibility for Cunningham's comment. Peppering his apology by complimenting his opponents as "honorable Americans" will not only resolve what could have been a potentially harmful public relations crisis, but will paint McCain in a very positive light and turn a potential PR disaster into a push to his campaign.