Watch CBSN Live

McCain Gets Mixed Reaction in Memphis

From CBS News' Dante Higgins:

John McCain gets mixed reactions at his commemorative MLK Speech in Memphis today as he said he made a mistake in his 1983 vote against King's holiday.

On a rainy morning in front of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr, was assassinated in 1968, McCain spoke to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In his remarks McCain honored King's legacy and said he was wrong for being late to support a holiday in honor of the slain civil rights leader .

"We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong," he said as boos interrupted from the audience.

"And eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona," he continued. Shouts of support also emerged from the crowd. "We forgive you," and "Everyone makes mistakes," people said.

"I'd remind you we can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing, and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans," McCain said.

Logistically the event was less than perfect. Rain, umbrellas that blocked McCain from view, malfunctioning speakers, and anti-war protestors shouting "end the war now" contributed to an atmosphere where few people could hear the Senator's remarks. Many walked by not noticing McCain was present.

McCain's camp says though weather was a challenge they are happy to have participated and satisfied with McCain's appearance.

"We were hoping for some better weather but it's Mother Nature. We can't control the rain. Senator McCain is very honored to have been invited by the SCLC to speak at this moving ceremony today," press secretary Brooke Buchanan said. "Though it was very hard for any media to see, people in the front were cheering him on by the end of his speech and were encouraged by his words."