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A South Asian in the White House?

Republican frontrunner in the US presidential poll, John McCain's family had adopted Bridget from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Dhaka. Pramit Pal Chaudhuri reports.

world Updated: Feb 08, 2008 01:35 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

If John McCain wins this year’s US presidential race, it will mean, among other things, the first South Asian in the White House. McCain’s youngest daughter, Bridget, 16, is of Bengali descent — a Bangladeshi orphan adopted by the family.

McCain’s wife, Cindy, visited an orphanage in Dhaka run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in 1991. The sisters asked her to take two girl babies with severe medical conditions back to the US for specialised care. One had a cleft palate, the other a congenital heart disease. Cindy McCain flew them both back.

On the way, she decided to keep one of the girls. She presented the 10-week-old baby to a surprised John McCain and said, “Say hello to your new little daughter.” The other child was adopted by a close family friend.

Bridget was used by the campaign staff of George W Bush to wreck McCain’s 2000 presidential bid. During the South Carolina primary, a “whispering campaign” claimed Bridget was the illegitimate child of McCain’s dalliance with a black prostitute. McCain lost the primary and dropped out of the race. He later said of those behind the smear, “I believe there is a special place in hell for people like those.”

McCain often calls Bridget “the toughest” of his four children. “She has enriched our lives. She’s a wonderful child, a complete part of our family and we love her,” he said in an interview. About dad, Bridget says: “My dad’s best achievement is being a Dad and running for President at the same time.”