Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cindy McCain Rwanda. @Cindy, Obama didn't do it!

And so the campaigns continue with stranger news coming out by the day. The latest is that Cindy McCain is on a tour in Rwanda. Well I'll be damned! Even the Rwandese are a little skeptical. Here is the article form USA Today.

By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

MASAKA, Rwanda — Her trip may not be as high-profile as another world tour underway right now, but Cindy McCain insists she's not in Africa for publicity.
The wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain said Monday that her trip here to Rwanda with a bipartisan group of politicians is merely a return to the scene of a disaster she witnessed 14 years ago — the Rwandan genocide.

Her visit comes as some Republicans have complained that news outlets are paying too much attention to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's travels in the Middle East and Europe.

"I came with no press, and I have a history of being concerned with these issues," said McCain, who is a board member of CARE International, a relief agency.

"I'd be here whether my husband was running or not. … I've been doing this all my adult life," she told USA TODAY in a brief interview.

The ONE Campaign group, which aims to call attention to poverty around the world, came to this village to tour a community health center that had no anti-AIDS drugs for patients until 2004, when a U.S. program made funds available.

Monday was the first time since she arrived in Rwanda last week that McCain took questions from reporters. All the activities of the U.S.-based group had been closed to journalists. "I was here during the 1994 genocide, so it was important to see for myself what has been accomplished in this nation," she said.

About 1 million people were killed in about 100 days when leaders of the nation's Hutu majority organized a campaign against the Tutsi minority. As the violence raged, a group of doctors and nurses from American Voluntary Medical Team — an aid group that McCain founded in 1988 — traveled through Rwanda on their way to attend to a cholera outbreak in neighboring Congo.

Rwanda is now relatively peaceful.

Asked if, as first lady, she'd be an advocate for Africa, she said, "I already have been … and I'll continue."

McCain said she was particularly moved by a meeting Saturday that was arranged for the visitors at Rwanda's national genocide memorial museum. A 36-year-old woman from eastern Rwanda told the Americans that she lost 120 relatives in the genocide and was raped 12 times, sustaining internal damage that bars her from having children.

But she said she was thankful she was not infected with HIV as a result of the rapes.

The woman appeared along with a former soldier who admitted to killing people who'd sought refuge in a church during the genocide. He apologized, and the woman forgave him.

"For me to sit there and watch that kind of reconciliation between two people like that …" McCain said, her voice trailing off. "I put myself in her place, and I don't know if I could have done that."

The major broadcast television networks gave heavy coverage to Obama's trip to Afghanistan and plan to do the same on his upcoming visits to Jordan, Israel and western Europe.

The three major network news anchors stayed home during John McCain's recent foreign travels, prompting Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., to complain that Obama's travels were "nothing but a political stunt."

The ONE Campaign excursion included Democratic former senator Tom Daschle; former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, also a Democrat; Republican former senator Bill Frist; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican; and Republican former congressman John Kasich.

One Rwandan who met McCain and the ONE group said their visit was appreciated, whatever its motive.

"There is what is called 'the sacrament of presence,' " said Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, head of Rwanda's Anglican Church. Because of visits like these, he said, Rwandans "no longer feel abandoned by the international community. It's a way of saying, 'Sorry. We weren't here when you needed us, but we are here to comfort you.' "

"They may do it for political reasons," he added, "but they can't go back without something on their minds. Rwanda is a school — a school for politicians, historians, anthropologists. … You can't come to Rwanda and go back without any questions in your mind."