When Quin Hillyer of The Examiner noted the perception that some conservatives believe McCain has been disrespectful to them in the past, McCain responded by saying: "I fundamentally disagree with your premise."
Hillyer followed-up by quoting specific comments he says McCain made about those who oppose illegal immigration. According to Hillyer, McCain referenced "Jim Crow" in reference to guest worker's tax treatment, and referred to those who opposed McCain's stance on immigration as, "Nativists."
McCain vehemently denied ever making those statements.
A few questions later, I asked McCain about his un-paid Hispanic Outreach Director Juan Hernandez. I'll post the transcript in a bit, but he essentially said that he takes advice from a lot of people, but that it doesn't mean that he will follow it. He also added that if he sees evidence that Hernandez -- or any adviser -- has said things that are truly unacceptable, he would get rid of him.
... To be honest, I did not want to ask that question today. I would have preferred to have asked him about that weeks ago -- so that I could ask him a question about Obama, or McCain's great idea to host town hall meetings. However, McCain has limited the amount of access we have to him lately, and I felt I owed it to our audience to investigate this topic.
Update: This video seems to show McCain comparing guest-worker tax treatment to Jim Crow -- though he doesn't say the words, "Jim Crow."
Update: Jim Geraghty has more.
Update: Here is the transcript of our exchange:
MATT LEWIS: Recently there were 2 evangelical pastors who you've declined their endorsements and some conservatives were upset about this, others have wondered about Juan Hernandez who is a non-paid Hispanic Outreach Director who has also said controversial statements but has not been let go from your campaign. What do you have to say to conservatives who wonder why you've sort of rejected some conservatives that may have said something that is politically incorrect, but not Juan Hernandez?
SEN. McCAIN: Well, I think that on both occasions comments were made...and as I recall Pastor Hagey apologized for.. or said they were taken completely out of context. I thought it was the right thing to do, I thought it was the right decision to make. I know that it was a very tough decision because I have respect for both individuals but, we simply cannot have the, in my view, statements made that I could be associated with. So I said look, I do not seek their endorsement.... and that is how I feel about it.
MATT LEWIS: Can I ask you about Juan Hernandez, not so much about Townhall where I write, but a lot of conservative bloggers have a lot to say about him... You never know what is accurate, but from what I read he has some very controversial things to say...about Mexico first, about essentially having a completely open border....Are we getting misinformation? or What is the disconnect there? Why are you taking advice from someone if he has made these outlandish comments?
SEN. McCAIN: First of all, I take advice from many many people. I don't always agree with that advice. I'm not sure that if he has a view, that he and I are in disagreement about..which I'm sure he does... I know very few people in this country, or in this world, that I agree with everything on... There's a difference between disagreement, if we have disagreement, and things that American's just find not acceptable.....
MATT LEWIS: ...Couldn't you make that argument for Rev. Wright or....?
SEN. McCAIN: I would be glad to examine any statement from any supporter of mine...I don't even know if he is quote or what he has specifically...I'll be glad to look at it... I'll be glad to look at anything anybody has said that may be offensive or wrong. But I may have disagreements with an issue with lots of people...and if we have strong enough disagreements, I will ask them to withdraw their support. And that is what has guided me....and that is all I have to say about it.