Sen. John McCain said he "probably" would have signed, had he been asked, a letter from Democratic senators calling on the Washington Redskins football team to change its name, according to Politico
"They didn’t ask," the Arizona Republican said. McCain, the 2008 GOP candidate for president, confirmed to Politico he still opposes the Redskins moniker. "It’s offensive to our Native Americans."
The letter was signed by 49 Democratic senators and sent to Roger Goodell, the National Football League commissioner. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida sent a separate letter to the league, Politico said.
Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, where there are 22 tribal organizations, said that the name change case had been turned into a "partisan issue" because the GOP was not invited to sign the letter.
was circulated by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It called the Redskins name a "racial slur" and urged the NFL to send a clear message "that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports."
The five Democrats who balked at signing the letter included Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, where the NFL team has its headquarters, and where the it practices and holds its training camp, according to The Washington Post
Although Kaine has expressed his support of a name change for months, an aide told the Post that his "concerns about the tone of the letter" prevented the senator from signing it.
An aide to Warner said, "Senator Warner believes that it’s not for Congress to dictate what the league does. He believes that over time, team names will change to reflect the times, as happened with the Washington Wizards." The Wizards, Washington's National Basketball Association team, changed its name from the Washington Bullets
The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin, both of Maryland, where the Redskins play their home game at FedEx Field in Landover.
The three other Democrats who did not sign were from conservative states: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Politico reported.
The NFL team, owned by Daniel Snyder, has refused to change its name, claiming that many Native Americans approve of the name Redskins, which the team says is a tribute to the strength and courage of Native Americans.
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