This has been going round on the Internet, not much in the mainstream media yet. McCain apparently has been caught once again in need of someone to whisper in his ear and unfortunately, Palin is incapable of that task.
McCain's adviser is trying to cover for him:
TP: John McCain’s foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann is defending his boss’s inexplicable and illogical answer in response to a question about whether he would agree to meet with the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. McCain appeared not to know that Zapatero is the leader of Spain when answering the question from an interviewer earlier this week. audioWaPo gets an email response from McCain's adviser.
WaPo: Republican presidential nominee John McCain suggested this week that he would continue President Bush's policy of having cool relations with the government of Spain, a NATO ally.More on this at TPM. Full interview with McCain, first on foreign relations with Latin America, and then relations with Spain (in Europe). McCain's responses are unsophisticated at the very least. Then again, republicans don't think much about diplomacy and international relations. That's just warm fuzzy stuff to them.
In comments that have caused a kerfuffle in Spain, McCain seemed to lump Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero in the same category as the anti-American leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba during in an interview with Miami-based Union Radio, a Spanish language radio station that conducted its interview in English.
President Bush has never forgiven Zapatero for pulling troops out of Iraq shortly after his victory in 2004, even though the Spanish prime minister has tried repeatedly rebuild relations and win an invitation to visit Washington. Bush has yet to hold a formal bilateral meeting with Zapatero, though in March he called him to congratulate him on reelection, and in April they met briefly at the NATO summit in Bucharest.
Zapatero is a center-left politician, but McCain has suggested that as president he would seek to repair relations that have been badly frayed in Europe during Bush's tenure.
So the reporter for the radio station seemed surprised that McCain, after discussing the anti-American antagonists in Latin South America, acted coolly to the idea of meeting with Zapatero.
"I would be willing to meet with those leaders who are friends and want to work with us in a cooperative fashion," McCain said, throwing in words of praise for the Mexican government.
The reporter asked a second time: "Would that invitation be extended to the Zapatero government?"
McCain repeated his talking point: "I can assure you I will establish closer relations with our friends and I will stand up to those who want to do harm to the United States of America."
The reporter pressed again, and McCain replied: "I have a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us and standing up to those who are not."
At this point, the reporter sought to clarify that McCain was not mixing up South America with Europe.
"I'm talking about the president of Spain," she noted. (TP points out that as Schuenemann tries to cover for McCain, he makes his own goof, referring to Zapatero as the president, which he's not. He's the prime minister.)