WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senator John McCain strongly defended President Bush’s strategies in Iraq and the war on terror Wednesday, and sharply rebuked his critics - but he clearly deviated from the president’s national security policy on two major issues.
Speaking before the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, he rejected the president’s determination to keep the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba open. He also said it was time to negotiate a new global warming treaty.
“We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured,” he said. “I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.”
On global warming and the international treaty that President Bush abandoned after taking office, McCain said: “There is such a thing as international good citizenship.” He added: “We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.”
But on Iraq, the senator remained firm to the president’s approach. “It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal,” he said.
The biting criticism of his two Democratic presidential challengers was hovering over those remarks – as well as several other passages in his speech - even though he didn’t mention either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama by name.
Related: Watch Bill Schneider's analysis of McCain's foreign policy speech