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“I’m terribly concerned there’s real danger we’re going to lose our country from within,” said the woman, who refused to give her name. “Even if we make English the national language, what difference does it make if you can vote [in Spanish], if everywhere you go, the hospitals are obliged to provide interpreters? We need one language.”

Mr. McCain said he thinks more must be done to require immigrants to learn English, but addressed her suspicions with some of his trademark straight talk, the Associated Press reports.

“I understand your concern that our traditions and our culture and background are being overwhelmed by another culture, but I believe we’re stronger than that,” he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce @washington