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Originally published Sunday, October 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Lawmaker condemns McCain camp's "hateful" rhetoric

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a veteran of the civil-rights movement, said Saturday that the negative tone of the Republican presidential campaign...

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a veteran of the civil-rights movement, said Saturday that the negative tone of the Republican presidential campaign reminds him of the hateful atmosphere that segregationist Gov. George Wallace fostered in Alabama in the 1960s.

Lewis said John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin were "sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse." Lewis later released a statement saying it was not his "intention or desire" to directly compare McCain or Palin to Wallace.

Between the two statements, McCain called Lewis' remarks "shocking and beyond the pale" and called on Barack Obama to repudiate them.

The Obama campaign said the Illinois senator doesn't believe McCain or his policy criticism is comparable to Wallace and his segregationist policies.

But campaign spokesman Bill Burton said Lewis was on target in other ways. "John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night."

Lewis' remarks follow widely reported examples of anger at McCain rallies that has been aimed at Obama, the first black man to be a major party's nominee for president.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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