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“Arab” vs. “Decent”: Arab-Americans Reacting to McCain’s Words in Minnesota

There are at least 3.5 million Americans of Arab descent. Those who are following the presidential race cannot be happy with the latest news from the McCain campaign.

In a scene that will be replayed on YouTube and cable news through the weekend, Gayle Quinnell, an elderly female Republican supporter at a rally in Lakeville, Minnesota, tells John McCain that Barack Obama is “an Arab” when questioning the Democrat’s fitness to lead the country.

McCain, as you can see in the video, snatches the microphone from her hand and counters: “No ma’am, no ma’am, he’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not. Thank you.”

The video also includes a post-rally interview with Quinnell. According to The Uptake.org, the reporters present were Noah Kunin, The UpTake’s senior political correspondent, Adam Aigner of NBC News and Dana Bash of CNN. [The interview was taped with a cellphone camera in a noisy place, but a full transcript is available at The Uptake link above.]

Quinnell, who’s 75 years old, said she obtained information on Obama from the Shakopee, Minn., local library and from another Republican volunteer at a McCain campaign office. She added she’s sent out 400 copies of a letter containing that information to local people so they can decide “if they would want Obama.”

When asked why she thinks Obama is Arab, Quinnell answers “because his dad is.” When CNN’s Dana Bash interjects that Barack Obama’s father was in fact a Muslim, Quinnell seems a bit confused about the terms. She finally says, “Yeah, but he’s still got Muslim in him. So that’s still part of him. I got all the stuff from the library and I could send you all kinds of stuff on him.”

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