People For the American Way

McCain and Domestic Terrorism


Contact: Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Time for McCain to Look in the Mirror

Senator John McCain has been making a lot of baseless accusations lately, but he is the one with the troubling past. McCain and Marylin Shannon — a 2008 McCain delegate and former vice chair of the Oregon Republican Party — both appeared at an August, 1993 fundraiser for the far right Oregon Citizens Alliance. McCain appeared against the advice of Mark Hatfield, a GOP senator from Oregon, who feared that the group’s extremist views would taint McCain.

Shannon, who attended this year’s Republican National Convention as a McCain delegate, spoke immediately before McCain and “praised the Grants Pass woman accused of shooting an abortion doctor in Wichita” earlier in the month, referring to her as a “fine lady.” When McCain spoke next, he said nothing about Shannon’s vile comments and delivered his speech as prepared.

Just a few months later, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve a crucial anti-domestic terrorism bill, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. McCain opposed the bill.

Between 1977 and 1993 there were “36 bombings, 81 arsons, 131 death threats, 84 assaults, 2 kidnappings, 327 clinic invasions, 71 chemical attacks, more than 6,000 blockades and related disruptions” against reproductive health clinics. Congress was finally spurred into action by the killing of Dr. David Gunn outside a Florida clinic in March of 1993. In August, Dr. George Tiller was shot and wounded in Wichita.

“When anti-choice extremists were terrorizing American women and their doctors, John McCain had multiple opportunities to make what should have been an easy choice,” said Kathryn Kolbert, President of People For the American Way, and a longtime women’s rights advocate who successfully argued a crucial abortion rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992. “But he chose political expediency over law and order. He didn’t say a word when Marylin Shannon sympathized with an attempted killer. He voted against the clinic access bill even as everyday Americans were being assaulted and besieged by domestic terrorists. As someone who faced repeated threats for work on behalf of reproductive rights, I am deeply disturbed by John McCain’s willingness to stand with and side with sympathizers and enablers of domestic terrorism.”

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