New McCain Armenian Voter Outreach Fails to Outline Policy Positions

WASHINGTON–Senator John McCain Tuesday issued an open letter to Armenian American voters, seeking their support for his presidential campaign, but failing to outline his stands on core Armenian American issues, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Tuesday’s letter, released by the McCain-Palin campaign, echoed the same themes as Senator McCain’s correspondence this February to the ANCA. Using nearly identical language, the Arizona Senator praised the Armenian American contribution to American society, and Armenia’s contribution to Coalition operations in Iraq and NATO peacekeeping in Kosovo.

While remaining silent on Nagorno Karabakh, the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, U.S. aid to Armenia, and the broader issue of U.S.-Armenia relations, he did, in euphemistic language typically employed by the Administration, mention the "terrible tragedy" suffered by the Armenia’s, although, notably, without using the proper term genocide or even mentioning the Ottoman Empire or the Republic of Turkey.

"We had hoped that, during the course of the campaign, Senator McCain’s outreach to Armenian American voters would have evolved beyond the respectful but substantially non-policy oriented letter he sent to us earlier this year, by outlining his positions on our community’s core issues," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Armenian Americans are issue voters, and look to the candidates seeking their support to be clear about their views and values ‘s particularly on issues related to the Armenian Genocide, Nagorno Karabakh, the strengthening of Armenia, and the growth of U.S.-Armenia relations."

Senator McCain has, throughout his tenure in the Congress, largely opposed or was passively indifferent to a broad array of Armenian American issues.

As recently as October of last year, Senator McCain publicly opposed Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In 1999, he voted against restricting U.S. aid to Azerbaijan over its blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. He voted against Senator Bob Dole’s Armenian Genocide Resolution in 1990.

Senator Obama has gone on the record several times setting forth his support for a broad range of Armenian American public policy priorities. Senator Biden has a record of more than 30 years of consistent support for the Armenian American community. Their campaign’s most comprehensive statement was issued in January of this year and remains on the official Barack Obama website.

For a head-to-head Obama-McCain comparison on Armenian issues, visit the Armenia’s for Obama official website.

In a related matter, Forbes magazine published a prominent article (entitled "Armenia, Turkey and the G-Resolution) about opposition within Turkey to the Obama campaign due to the support of both Senators Obama and Biden for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The ANCA invites community commen’s about the Presidential election. Share your thoughts by writing to anca@anca.org. The texts of both McCain letters are provided below.

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Text of September 29, 2008 McCain campaign open letter

To the Armenian-American Community of the United States

Dear Friends,

The Armenian-American community has contributed richly to the American fabric and has been instrumental in ensuring that a terrible tragedy is never forgotten.

It is fair to say that one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the brutal murder of as many as one and a half million Armenia’s under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, has also been one of the most neglected. The suffering endured by the Armenian people during that period represented the prologue to what has come to be known as humanity’s bloodiest century. It is our responsibility to recognize those tragic events and to ensure that our world never experiences the impact of the bloody conflicts that so filled the 20th century.

In light of that history, the rise of the independent Republic of Armenia from such painful experiences is inspirational, as is the vibrancy of the Armenian diaspora. In particular, I deeply admire both Armenia’s support of coalition operations in Iraq and NATO peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo. In my visits to Armenia, I have been deeply impressed by the resilient and hard working Armenian people who have made tremendous progress in very difficult circumstances.

Our country is greatly enriched by the descendents of the victims and survivors of the horrific tragedy that befell the Armenian people. Today Armenian-Americans represent that indestructible spirit of a people and embody the principles of freedom and democracy that all Americans prize above all else. I am grateful for all of the contributions that Armenian-Americans have made to our wonderful country and I greatly value the opportunity to stand with the Armenian-American community in my campaign and as the next President of the United States.

Sincerely,
[signed]
John McCain

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Text of February 1, 2008 McCain letter to the ANCA

Thank you for contacting me regarding my views on issues of special concern to the Armenian-American community ‘s a community which has contributed richly to the American fabric and has been instrumental in ensuring that one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century is never forgotten.

It is fair to say that this tragedy, the brutal murder of as many as one and a half million Armenia’s under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, has also been one of the most neglected. The suffering endured by the Armenian people during that period represented the prologue to what has come to be known as humanity’s bloodiest century.

Therefore, the rise of independent Armenia from such painful experiences is extremely inspirational, as is the vibrancy of the Armenian diaspora. In particular, I deeply admire both Armenia’s support of coalition operations in Iraq and NATO peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo, as well as the Armenian-American community’s great contributions to our nation. In my visits to Armenia, I have been deeply impressed by the tremendous progress made in very difficult circumstances.

I greatly appreciate this opportunity and look forward to working with the Armenian-American community in my campaign and as the next President of the United States.

Sincerely,
[signed]
John McCain

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