PORTMAN'S MACACA MOMENT.

John McCain supporter and Ohio talk-radio host Bill Cunningham made headlines yesterday for repeatedly referring to Barack Obama using his middle name, Hussein, and disparaging the candidate as a terrorist sympathizer in introductory remarks at a McCain rally. But it was former Ohio congressman and former Bush administration official Rob Portman who really had his "macaca" moment yesterday by telling the crowd that Cunningham is an "extremely important" part of McCain's presidential campaign and not condemning those types of remarks, as McCain himself did in remarks following his speech.

Portman, who has his sights set on a leading role in national politics and who has been rumored as a possible running mate for McCain, instead praised Cunningham for his flagrant racism: "Willie, you're out of control again. So, what else is new? But we love him. But I've got to tell you, Bill Cunningham lending his voice to this campaign is extremely important."

McCain, on the other hand, who has himself been a victim of this sort of racist disparagement from fellow Republicans, was willing to take on Cunningham's remarks: "Whatever suggestion was made that was in any way disparaging to the integrity, character, honesty of either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton was wrong, and I condemn it. I will take responsibility, and I apologize for it." He also said he will "make sure nothing like that ever happens again."

If McCain means that, he might want to think of shelving Portman as a spokesman for his campaign and possible VP pick.

--Kate Sheppard

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