The Candidates and King
Sens. John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton were in Memphis yesterday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death. Sen. Barack Obama campaigned in Indiana and talked about King during a speech in Fort Wayne.
On his initial opposition to a King holiday:
"We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong and eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona. We can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing, and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans. But he knew as well that in the long term, confidence in the reasonability and good heart of America is always well placed. And always, that was his method in word and action -- to remind us of who we are and what we believe. His arguments were unanswerable and they were familiar, the case always resting on the writings of the Founders, the teachings of the prophets and the word of the Lord."
On learning of King's death while a POW in Vietnam:
"In our circumstances at the time, good news from America was hard to come by. But the bad news was a different matter, and each new report of violence, rioting and other tribulations in America was delivered without delay. The enemy had correctly calculated that the news from Memphis would deeply wound morale, and leave us worried and afraid for our country. Doubtless it boosted our captors' morale, confirming their belief that America was a lost cause and that the future belonged to them."