May 26th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
7 years ago

McCain focuses on GI Bill, Iraq on Memorial Day

John McCain said veterans deserve better treatment.
John McCain said veterans deserve better treatment.

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) – John McCain spent Memorial Day focusing on his own military history, the war in Iraq and the debate over veterans’ benefits.

“The sacrifices made by veterans deserve to be memorialized in something more lasting than marble or bronze or in the fleeting effect of a politician's speeches,” McCain told veterans and their families gathered under a cloudless sky at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial. “Your valor and devotion to duty have earned your country's abiding concern for your welfare. And when our government forgets to honor our debts to you, it is a stain upon America's honor.”

The presumptive Republican nominee made no mention of Barack Obama. McCain drew fire from the Illinois senator last week for his opposition to a GI Bill proposed by fellow veteran Sen. Jim Webb. The measure passed the Senate last week.

In a tersely worded statement last week, McCain responded, “I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did.”

On Monday, McCain said again that he felt Webb’s bill unfairly provides the same benefits to troops who had only served one tour of duty as it did to those who serve longer.

McCain, along with Sens. Lindsey Graham and Richard Burr, has proposed veterans’ benefits legislation that works on a sliding scale. The plan would provide incentives for the enlisted - especially noncommissioned officers - to remain longer in a military that has struggled under the strain of two simultaneous conflicts, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

“It would be easier politically for me to have joined Sen. Webb in offering his legislation,” McCain said Monday, adding later that “I intend to deserve the honor [of the presidency] if I am fortunate to receive it, even if it means I must take politically unpopular positions at times and disagree with people for whom I have the highest respect and affection.”

McCain closed his remarks saying he recognizes the country is growing tired of the war and the mistakes that were made, “But we cannot react to those mistakes by embracing a course of action that will be an even greater mistake, a mistake of colossal historical proportions.”

“We must give General Petraeus and the Americans he has the honor to command adequate time to salvage from the wreckage of our past mistakes a measure of stability for Iraq and the Middle East, and a more secure future for the American people,” said McCain.

McCain attends a fundraiser in Albuquerque Monday afternoon before flying to Colorado, where he will deliver a speech on foreign policy Tuesday morning.

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Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. Griff

    Where is this Idea, that Dmeocrat's will vote for this Guy, coming from... They will be mostly Hillary's! Hillary in not a Democrat... Her Husband (Bill), is the Democrat... Republican's, real Republican's, will vote for John "The Good Guy" McCain... Just old Fashion Republican's.....

    May 26, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. After further review,Texas

    It takes a lot of nerve to lie to the troops today.

    May 26, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. Gumby

    McCain will not win the nomination. real Republicans support Ron Paul!

    May 26, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. joseph

    Mc Cain Was a Pow in Viet Nam War.He almost died when his fighter
    blast off there.To day is 5-26-2008 and many things are changing. IWhat happen if every body denies fighting for his country ?Can you risk your life because of some money for college ? Mc Cain 's statue
    is standing in Hanoi as a criminal prison. IS He worth for nothing ?
    I have a mouth and can sound it like a BIG GONG but I know Mc Cain's PRIDE.The general Election will be hold soon and the winner
    is MC Cain If he and Obama are in the RACE.God BLess us All.

    May 26, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. KE

    A dream is a dream but some people want to keep on dreaming.

    If I have a choice I'd rather be around Mountaineers than Sen. Obama and his professor friends (no offece), whe the real trouble come. Sen. Obama and his company (romanticists) has little faith and are in the blame game. (Excuse my broken English, there is a reason for this)

    About significant majority of American people didn't protest against the war when the war started (government and the media included). Before that a group of extremists high jacked commercial airplanes and remember 9/11 (and the terrorist leader proudly praised for it, and Obama said he stopped wearing his flag pin).

    Like Bush said, history will tell, we won't see the whole picture, till probably another half a century or so.

    A good leader should change opinions as he/she/ learns new evidence and able to change mind if necessary (this is not flip flop). We cannot fix the past. Blaming Bush or anybody else who supported the war now is less constructive. What we are waiting from all the candidates is the convincing arguments come November and why we should vote for any of them.

    May 26, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. Go Barak and Michelle Obama!

    Jogn McCain;s son returned from the Marie Corp this spring..i wonder how many tours he will be FORCED to make?

    May 26, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Alex

    Wow...the campaign did not even start McCain already start flip flapping. Thanks for at least saying you will stick to the issues at the beginning of the campaign. Now everybody can see you that you flip flap when you feel the heat. One should not have to serve in the army to love his country. A nation can only be a nation due to the collective contribution of the people who live in the country. Claiming those who served in the army love their country more than others is nothing more than arrogance. McCain, get off your high riding horse and get real. We love and respect what you did for your country but stop condescending approach it does not take you anywhere.

    May 26, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
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