WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful John McCain says he respects Hillary Rodham Clinton and that he said as much when a woman used the word "bitch" to describe her.
"How do we beat the bitch?" the woman asked Monday at a McCain event in South Carolina.
McCain laughed along with the crowd as he said, "May I give the translation?"
"That's an excellent question," he added. "I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democratic Party."
On Tuesday, CNN's Rick Sanchez raised the question of whether McCain should have admonished the woman, and McCain's campaign criticized that criticism on Wednesday.
"Most people who have seen it are looking at it as a real mistake on his part in terms of the way he handled it," Sanchez said on the cable network's "Out in the Open."
McCain's South Carolina campaign manager, Buzz Jacobs, said in a statement Wednesday: "It not only reflects poorly on him, but on CNN. If Mr. Sanchez had even the faintest perspective on the race for the White House, he would know that Senator McCain has expressed his utmost respect for Senator Clinton numerous times on the campaign trail, as he did at Monday's event in Hilton Head."
Hours later, the McCain campaign was using the controversy to raise money for his candidacy.
Campaign manager Rick Davis e-mailed supporters, saying, "We are asking you to help us fight Rick Sanchez and CNN and stand with John McCain. Please make your most generous contribution from $25 up to the maximum limit of $2,300 to the only candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton."