ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala Reports: Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin warned against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's pursuit of nuclear weapons for a "second holocaust," while blaming "Democrat partisans" for forcing rally organizers to withdraw her invitation to speak before an anti-Iran protest in New York next week.
"John McCain and I are committed to drawing attention to the danger posed by Iran's nuclear program and we will not waver in our commitment," Palin told a crowd of 9,000 supporters in Blaine, MN. "I will continue to call for sustained action to prevent Iranian President Ahmadinejad from getting these weapons that he wants for a second holocaust."
In an interview last week with ABC News' Charles Gibson in Fairbanks, Palin spoke of the need to ensure "that these weapons of mass destruction, that nuclear weapons are not given to those hands of Ahmadinejad, not that he would use them, but that he would allow terrorists to be able to use them."
In her remarks today in Minnesota, Palin also publicly addressed for the first time her canceled appearance at the "Rally to Stop Iran Now" which was originally billed as a joint appearance with Palin and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Planners of the rally yesterday disinvited all political officials from the event after criticism mounted over Palin's invitation to speak at the protest against Ahmadinejad's attendance at the opening of the UN General Assembly next week. In a statement yesterday, rally organizers said the decision to minimize "political personalities" was done in an effort "to keep the focus on Iranian threats and to ensure that this critical message not be obscured."
"Unfortunately, though some Democrat partisans put politics first and now no elected official will be able to appear at that "Stop Iran" rally. Iran's pursuit of these weapons should concern all Americans; this should not be a matter for partisan politics," Palin said.
The McCain campaign released a statement under Sen. McCain’s name yesterday afternoon criticizing the Obama campaign for not participating in the rally.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with Republicans, Democrats and independents alike to oppose Ahmadinejad's goal of a nuclear armed Iran. Senator Obama's campaign had the opportunity to join us. Senator Obama chose politics rather than the national interest," the statement read.
Sen. Hillary Clinton had agreed weeks ago to attend the event, but backed out of the protest late Tuesday after learning that organizers also invited the Republican vice presidential nominee without informing her.
Organized by American Jewish groups, the "Rally to Stop Iran Now" sent out a media advisory billing the joint appearance in their headline: "SEN. HILLARY CLINTON AND GOV. SARAH PALIN AT “RALLY TO STOP IRAN NOW,” AT UNITED NATIONS, MONDAY, SEPT. 22nd, 11:45 A.M."
Clinton aides were described as "furious" after learning from reporters -- not rally organizers -- of the plan to have Clinton and Palin appear together.
"Her attendance was news to us, and this was never billed to us as a partisan political event," said Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines in a statement to reporters on Wednesday. "Senator Clinton will therefore not be attending."