JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Is Republican John McCain‘s age an issue? Only if the American public want to make it one, the senior Arizona senator told reporters on Friday.
“I don’t take offense to it … If that’s what the American people want to discuss, that’s fine,” said McCain, who turns 72 in August and would be the oldest first-term president ever.
“I will continue to introduce them to my 96-year-old mother and display the same vigor and energy that I have been able to display throughout this campaign which allowed me to win the nomination of my party.”
To that end, the campaign is launching a television commercial on Mother’s Day on Sunday, showing McCain with his still vigorous mother, Roberta.
The commercial, dubbed “Johnny’s Mom,” shows mother and son chatting about his birth at a U.S. Navy base in Panama, where his father served as an officer.
“I’m told that on the table were 27 bottles of scotch, all presents to Johnny,” she said.
The issue of the Arizona senator’s age is a sensitive one for the campaign.
It sparked a dust-up this week after Democratic rival Barack Obama suggested McCain had “lost his bearings” after commenting that Islamist Palestinian group Hamas favors Obama for president.
A McCain adviser accused Obama, 46, of trying to raise the Republican candidate’s age as an issue, a charge denied by Obama’s campaign.
McCain revisited the issue on Friday. Hamas’ apparent favor for Obama was also of interest to American voters, he said.
“I think that’s of interest to the American people and that is something that needs to be discussed — why his policies should meet the approval of a spokesperson for Hamas. I believe it’s a legitimate point of discussion.”
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Photo credit: Reuters/Chris Keane (McCain speaks at a campaign event in Charlotte, N.C., May 5, 2008)