USA - 2008 election

Two McCain offices evacuated in letter scare

Two campaign offices of US Republican candidate John McCain in New Hampshire and Colorado were evacuated after receiving an envelope containing suspicious powder and a threatening letter. Staff have been placed under quarantine.


Staff members at two campaign offices for White House hopeful John McCain were quarantined Thursday after threatening letters containing a suspicious powder substance were received, officials said.

The first letter arrived at the Republican's campaign headquarters in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. A second letter was later reported at a McCain office in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Both buildings were evacuated and staff members sent to medical facilities for treatment under quarantine while FBI and Secret Service agents joined hazardous materials experts at both scenes.

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told AFP that the envelope received in Centennial, a Denver suburb in the western state, "also contained a generic warning regarding the contents," but gave no further details.

"McCain staffers reported that they had received an envelope containing white powder in McCain's campaign office in Centennial," Zahren said.

"The staff has been quarantined and the building has been evacuated."

McCain spokesman Jeff Sadofky said that all campaign offices were put on the alert after the New Hampshire letter was found.

"We have put all of our offices on highest alert. They're looking for anything suspicious and all staff has been quarantined as of right now," he told Fox news.

"Immediately upon learning of this, federal and local law enforcement officials were notified," Sadofky said.

"Staffs were immediately transported to a local hospital. Hazmat is on the scene and is looking for more information," he added. "Our staff has evacuated as a precaution."

Asked about the content of the letters, Sadofky said: "The best I can tell you is that the letters contained a threat to those who have read it. We have turned everything over to law enforcement."

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Fox television reported that between five and 25 staff and volunteers were at the McCain office in Centennial when the letter arrived in the mail, and that those people had been taken to hospital. It was unclear how many were in the New Hampshire office.

In Colorado, the Arapahoe County sheriff's office said police and fire officials responded to a "a call of a suspicious package, containing an unknown powder, that was delivered," to the headquarters.

"At this time the scene has been secured and several people who may have been exposed to the substance are being examined by medical personnel," it said in a statement.

"The substance is being examined to determine if it is hazardous."

A spokeswoman for McCain's rival Barack Obama said they were unaware of any similar incidents at the Democrat's offices.

The Democratic Convention, at which the party will officially nominate Barack Obama as its candidate for the White House, is scheduled to take place August 25-28 convention in Denver.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, threatening letters containing anthrax were sent to prominent politicians and journalists, and five people died after coming in contact with the substance.

A US government scientist who was suspected to be responsible for those attacks committed suicide last month.

Earlier this month, a gunman walked into the headquarters of the Arkansas Democratic Party and killed its chairman, a top ally of former president Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary. The shooter was later gunned down by police.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning