WASHINGTON — Republican presidential nominee John McCain was “not truthful” and “insulting” when answering questions about whether he paid for his daughter’s Toyota Prius, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said Wednesday.

Gettelfinger, whose union has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama, leapt on comments McCain made in a TV interview Sunday when asked about the Prius hybrid driven by Meghan McCain.

In two newspaper interviews last year, McCain said he bought the Prius for his daughter- joking at one point that “I ought to know the name of it; I paid for it,” according to the New York Times.

But McCain told WXYZ on Sunday that “actually she bought it, I believe, herself.”

“To us, it’s a credibility issue,” Gettelfinger said Wednesday.Gettelfinger said McCain was free to buy foreign or domestic vehicles but argued that buying models from domestic automakers supported more U.S. jobs than buying from overseas companies.

McCain spokeswoman Sarah Lenti did not directly address the question of who paid for the Prius, but said “the UAW should lay off of Meghan McCain.”

The comments echoed ones from last month when McCain told a Washington newspaper that he wasn’t sure how many homes he owned. McCain and his wife, Cindy, are estimated to be worth more than $100 million, thanks to the beer distributorship Cindy McCain inherited from her father.

Gettelfinger also criticized McCain over the $25 billion or more in government loans sought by automakers, saying McCain “was late coming to the game on the retooling loans. He’s never been clear from our standpoint on his level of support.”

McCain said he supports funding $25 billion in loans as Congress approved but did not pay for last year. Obama has backed the $50 billion the auto industry said it needed, but automakers may settle for $25 billion to win approval before Congress adjourns this year.

(c) 2008, Detroit Free Press.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-09-10-08 2105EDT

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