Does McCain Really Think Spain Is in Latin America?

Pro-Barack Obama blogs are raving wild with the accusation that John McCain does not know where Spain is.

This "news and analysis" seems to have as its source the liberal Talking Points Memo blog, which spent more than 48 hours minutely dissecting an exclusive interview that McCain gave to Radio Caracol Miami earlier in the week.

During the interview, which was focused mainly on U.S. relations with South America, the reporter turned the subject to Europe and asked McCain whether he would meet with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. To which McCain responded: "I would be willing to meet with those leaders who are friends and want to work with us in a cooperative fashion."

The reporter then asked a second time: "Would that invitation be extended to the Zapatero government?" To which McCain replied: "Honestly, I have to analyze our relationships, situations, and priorities, but I can assure you that I will establish closer relationships with our friends, and I will stand up to those who want to harm the United States."

Enter TPM's Josh Marshall, who interpreted McCain's non-committal position vis-à-vis the Spanish leader as proving that: "John McCain either doesn't know who the Prime Minister of Spain is, thinks Spain is a country in Latin America, or possibly both." In a subsequent post, Marshall asserted: "Well, it doesn't appear to have registered in the American press yet. But the story keeps bubbling in the Spanish press about McCain's bizarre gaffe about the Spanish Prime Minister."

The story has now been dutifully picked up by the fact-checking MSM, which seems to be accusing McCain of provoking an international incident. The Washington Post says "McCain Slights Spanish Prime Minister" and Time magazine asks "Did McCain Diss Spain?" The Los Angeles Times asserts that "John McCain thinks Spain is a rogue state in South America" and the Boston Globe says "McCain Raises Eyebrows in Spain."

Except that none of this is true: The story does not keep bubbling in the Spanish press, McCain has not raised eyebrows in Spain, and Spaniards did not perceive McCain's equivocation as a "bizarre gaffe." (OK, maybe McCain did "diss" Spain just a little.)