Published January 13, 2015
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be physically prevented from visiting Ground Zero should he attempt to go to the "sacred" site where the World Trade Center once stood, Arizona Sen. John McCain joked Thursday.
"I think the president of Iran should be physically restrained if necessary," a laughing McCain told radio host Shawn Wasson. "I hope it doesn't come to that but we're not going to have that kind of desecration of what is sacred ground. Obviously, it is a propaganda ploy on his part, and if we allowed him to do it it would just embolden his followers and give him the publicity he seeks."
Ahmadinejad, whose country is on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror and has called for the elimination of the state of Israel, is arriving in New York on Monday for the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Ahmadinejad told "60 Minutes" on Thursday that he's "amazed" Americans view his request to visit the site as insulting. He said he still has the visit included in his program and will try to go, but if local officials can't swing it, "I won't insist."
"We all know that unfortunately because the United Nations is located in New York City, he can come there just as (Cuban leader Fidel) Castro comes and some other jerks," McCain said. But allowing Ahmadinejad to visit the site "would be an affront not only to America but to the families of our loved ones who perished there in an unprecedented act of terror."
Ahmadinejad has also accepted an invitation to speak at Columbia University. McCain, who acknowledged he didn't have a close relationship with the Minutemen border guards, nonetheless noted that one Minuteman leader was prevented from speaking at the school, but the Iranian president is being welcomed.
"I don't quite get that, my friend. It's a sad commentary," McCain said.