May 26th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
10 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. MP-Pennsylvania

    Mccain is a good man, a hero but we cannot have him as the president.

    Also I am just wondering whether we should change the constitution by adding requirements to be the president-

    served in a armed force

    Then earse the names of the presidents who didn't (including dodged)

    That means Bill clinton and Dick Cheney (Dodged)
    george Bush (No records.........)

    For sixteen years we had a president without experience in forces

    Also Ronald reagan

    OMG we have to delete the names of many as half of the presidents from the History

    May 26, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. Richard



    May 26, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  3. Linned

    "Daddy Warbucks" wants the soliders to stay in the military a longer length of time to get the better benefits. If these soliders are willing to put their lives on the line for this country we should do everything possible for them no matter what the length of service. The soliders need the benefits as well as better health care, education benefits and mental health care.

    May 26, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. rachel

    I am finally done with the two party system especially the democratic party. I am 33 and have always voted democratic but not this year.

    May 26, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. 1926

    Obama is an idiot who will say and do anything to get a vote. Shame

    May 26, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. obama - supporter - arkansas

    this man was a war hero yes
    now he wants revenge
    he is a war monger.

    it is all he wants to talk about

    god bless our usa and a our troops

    May 26, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Deward Bowles

    McCain should be ashamed of himself. His self righteous and self important rebuke of Obama on the GI bill suggesting he, McCain is the only one who can understand the vets and the military and implying that anyone who disagrees with him is unAmerican and unpatriotic smacks of a 3rd Bush term.

    It is a slap in the face to all the vets and current military and to Webb, Warner and Hagel along with all the other senators, Republican and Democrat alike, who voted in an overwhelming veto proof margin for the Webb GI bill.

    Webb and Warner are former secretaries of the Navy for crying out loud.

    You want more of the same, vote McCain.

    My vote is for Obama.

    May 26, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. fred, but the good one....

    Larry Buchas....thousand thanks for a well written and factual statement.

    I only hope that those miniscule minds could read it and understand it, but again, they are MINISCULE MINDS and will vote for the fraud instead of the next Commander in Chief: Mr. Obama

    go google it and you´ll find out! and be ohhhhh soooo surprised or maybe not because of your MINISCULE MINDS.

    May 26, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. james usmc

    I am a military vet,and I will vote for OBAMA.
    I have done 2 tours in Afghanistan And 2 in Iraq .
    How much more would I have to do get the proper respect from Bush/Cheney ,and now MCCain.

    May 26, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. Elly

    MCSame could care less about the veterans
    There are many vets and pows ....unfortunately you never hear much about them
    MCSame is the only *glorified one*
    with all those *no votes* listed above by Larry its quite obvious MCSame could care less about he veterans!!!

    Obama\Jim Webb , Joe Biden ,Chuck Hagel or Bill Richardson 08
    Anyone but MCBush!!!!
    oh yes and Senator John Edwards for Attorney General!!

    May 26, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. After further review,Texas

    McCains only goal is to enrich himself and his creepy wife.The manchurian candidate will take this country back to the age of the knuckle draggers.

    May 26, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Matt - One of the Proud 28% in WV

    Larry has said exactly what needs to be said on this subject. I can't imagine why McCain feels like he needs to disapprove any bill that will help our troops.

    Obama '08

    May 26, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. James from bk/LI

    I think mccain would be worst than bush if given a chance. if HIS failure to sign the GI bill to show it, i don't know what else will. the guy has way to much baggage to be president......

    May 26, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Bob Stephens

    McSame, you are a creep. To not vote for the GI bill that would give Gi's the ability to go to college under the GI Bill shows what a dirt bag you are....

    May 26, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. what about the pork

    The reason McCain did not vote for the Vet bills was because they were so loaded with pork spending and making government bigger. I would like to see someone come up with a bill that would stop all of this junk being added to good bills. What do the candidates have to say about that? Line item veto? Where is the common sense in all of this?

    May 26, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  16. Rashida for Obama!

    Larry Buchas THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

    For exposing McCain on factual matters. With facts and independent thinking we can overcome the McSame and Clinton pandering!

    May 26, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Joe Regis

    America has Republicans fatigue.

    Obama/Jim Webb 08/12

    May 26, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. Shirley/CA for Obama

    Mr. McTrash is trying to speak again. The pressure of the GE will take even more toll on this man. I suggest his small circle of supporters think seriously about the VP position. Anyway, who knows what he stands for? I don't think he knows himself. He is just so glad after 20 years to be representing the republican party he would say and do anything. Well, McTrash this is one vote you will NEVER get.

    Man of intergrity...what a joke. A man who leaves his sick and dying wife for money. First Lady more like First _ _ _ _. This word rhymes with mut.

    May 26, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. Conservative Buyer- CA

    McCain wants to preserve the GI Bill GWBush has now.

    I can't believe his argument is if VETs get great benefits then many will leave.

    McCain has forgotten our heroes who are found in skid row.

    If Obama can introduce a GI BIll that gives great benefits like, education, home funding, training programs, and increased pension benefits; THEN SIGN ME UP.

    I'll go fight for OBAMA if this is what Vet's are receiving.

    McCain is all backwards and it's unbelieveable!

    May 26, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    "To question your government is not unpatriotic — to not question your government is unpatriotic."

    The problem with McBush and the current Bush administration... in fact, the whole right-wing Republican movement... is that somehow, questioning the path your government is taking has become synonymous with being "unpatriotic".

    Nothing could be farther from the truth and the quote made by the R. Senator from Nebraska says that well....

    If I were to provide a quote that sums up McCain, it would be Thomas Jefferson's "He who knows best knows how little he knows. "

    And McBush told you today (and yesterday) how he knows best.

    Obama/Hagel 2008 & 2012

    May 26, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Susie from OH

    Mr. McCain, I know you are not that stupid, but let me tell you something anyway. If a man or woman would get tuition after 3 years of duty, yes, a lot of them will do just 3 years and leave. BUT, would you or would you not get a hell of lot more to do the 3 years??????? That way, maybe we could have enough to get rid of Blackwater, KBR, and DynaCorp, and all of the rest of the soldiers for profit that we have around the world and bring back the dignity that my soldiers have died for. Maybe? They deserve EVERYTHING that they ask for, unlike what you so-called "people who care" would give these kids!

    May 26, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. Michael Straight Talk

    Dear Sen. McCain,

    Would you honestly tell the voters that Sen. Webb would put together to a unfair package for veterans that he and many others have worked hard to support? If you were honest you would have supported their bill and later work with them to improve it to be even better for the veterans. Any person who is really a team player will not have any problem with that, unless that person's ego is the hinderance aspect! Good leadership qualitiy includes ability to be good team player and ability to inspire others to come up with great ideas, and support them whole heartedly in order to realize them!

    May 26, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    YAWNSVILLE...... McCane is one boring old fart

    May 26, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. susie

    Obama/Carter just started wearing flag pin for votes.

    May 26, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. Joshua, Los Angeles, CA

    More Republican double-talk:
    -Support the troops by staying in Iraq
    -Support the troops through stop-loss
    -Support the troops by shopping

    But don't you dare:
    -Give them adequate education funding
    -Give them enough rest between tours
    -Diagnose them with PTSD
    -Give them clean water, body armor, or ammo

    Forget 4 more years of Bush, McCain is 100 more years of Bush

    May 26, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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