First Clinton, now Palin out of U.N. rally

September 18, 2008 9:15:24 PM PDT
The first political event expected to feature both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin will now have neither. The National Coalition to Stop Iran Now said Thursday that it will put on a rally without "American political personalities," and Palin won't be there.

The move angered Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who accused Democratic rivals of having his running mate disinvited. All Americans should agree on the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he said.

"Governor Palin was pleased to accept an invitation to address this rally and show her resolve on this grave national security issue," McCain said in a statement. He blamed "Democratic partisans" and Barack Obama's campaign for pressing organizers to dump Palin.

McCain's campaign did not explain why it thinks Democrats and the Obama camp were behind the rescinded invitation.

A number of American Jewish organizers are staging the rally against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They had announced earlier this week that the event would feature both Clinton and Palin.

Clinton aides fumed over what they saw as a slight by organizers, because they had no idea until told by reporters that Palin was supposed to attend as well.

The New York senator had agreed weeks ago to attend the rally but abruptly backed out late Tuesday, as soon as she learned of the pairing. Clinton, whose historic bid for the presidency came up short, has sought to avoid a public face-off with Palin. A Clinton-Palin double billing at such an event would have been awkward.

Casey Sanders, a spokeswoman for rally organizers, had no explanation for why Palin shouldn't be there or who decided that.

The Republican ticket of John McCain and Palin is working hard to win over disappointed Clinton supporters, particularly women. And Obama, who beat Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been trying to assure Jewish voters that he is firmly committed to Israel's security.

The Palin camp criticized Clinton for backing out, saying all parties should rally together in opposition to the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.

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