Cindy McCain is apologizing after inaccurately claiming that she stopped human trafficking at the Phoenix airport when she reported a toddler with a woman of a different ethnicity and “something didn’t click.”
The widow of former U.S. Sen. John McCain told stunned radio hosts that the woman was waiting for a man who bought the child to get off a plane.
“I came in from a trip I’d been on,” McCain said on Phoenix radio station KTAR. “I spotted — it looked odd — it was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had. Something didn’t click with me. I tell people ‘trust your gut.’ I went over to the police and I told them what I thought, and they went over and questioned her, and by God she was trafficking that kid.”
McCain was discussing trafficking at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, which she said attracts sophisticated traffickers who sell women and children for sex. She urged people to speak up if they see something odd.
Phoenix Police Sgt. Armando Carbajal confirmed McCain requested a welfare check on a child at the airport on Jan. 30, but said “officers determined there was no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment.”
Later, McCain, who adopted a daughter from Bangladesh, said on Twitter that she reported an incident she thought was trafficking.
“I commend the police officers for their diligence,” she wrote. “I apologize if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from ‘if you see something, say something.'”
McCain is an outspoken advocate for preventing human trafficking. She’s co-chair of the Arizona Human Trafficking Council, which recommends ways to end exploitation, and trafficking is a focus for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.