McCain to Hispanics: drop dead

The senator, a leader on immigration reform, tells activists that since the community didn't vote for him, they can look elsewhere for help.

Published April 3, 2009 8:50PM (EDT)

John McCain has long been known for his temper. More recently, he'd also been known for his leadership on immigation reform. But it seems as if the former might now be overtaking the latter.

The National Journal has this report on a meeting last month with McCain, fellow Sens. John Thune and Mel Martinez and Hispanic business leaders:

"He was angry," one source said. "He was over the top. In some cases, he rolled his eyes a lot. There were portions of the meeting where he was just staring at the ceiling, and he wasn't even listening to us. We came out of the meeting really upset."

McCain's message was obvious, the source continued: After bucking his party on immigration, he had no sympathy for Hispanics who are dissatisfied with President Obama's pace on the issue. "He threw out [the words] 'You people -- you people made your choice. You made your choice during the election,' " the source said. "It was almost as if [he was saying] 'You're cut off!' We felt very uncomfortable when we walked away from the meeting because of that."

Martinez gave a slightly different account of what happened at the meeting, saying that it hadn't gone badly, and telling the magazine McCain had said, "You guys thought this guy [Obama] was going to be your savior. Where is his leadership?"

McCain certainly doesn't have reason to be surprised by the lack of support he got from the Hispanic community in November. While it's true he was a leader on immigration issues, he was running as the nominee of a party that had seriously hurt itself with Hispanics in 2006 by taking a nativist tack. At the same time, though, it's clear why he's angry. The Hispanic vote was one of the major factors behind Obama's victory, delivering, depending upon who you ask, a long list of states that includes Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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John Mccain R-ariz.