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. bern

    Anyone foolish enough to vote for a senile, boriing, dumb idiot cannot be reasoned with anyway. McCain barely got a college degree. Dumb is not what we need.

    May 26, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. ari

    Bush weaseled his way out of military service. Mabe McCain's right about not listening to someone who didnt serve. But I wonder if McCain was brave enough to tell Bush that.

    Obama is a man of honour and integrity. That is why he will always do right for those who fought and for all Americans on other issues.

    May 26, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. CPO, USN(Ret)

    Having spent 20+ years in service to my country in the U.S. Navy, I find it unfathomable that anyone, especially someone running for POTUS, would vote against Webb's version of the GI Bill. Servicemembers who leave after only one enlistment are those who need benefits the most. Not officers (who by their very commission are already college educated), but junior enlisted who 'volunteer' because they have no employment opportunities nor money to attend college. They deserve this benefit for no other reason than the fact that they are willing to put on a uniform and serve their country. If retention is truly a concern, perhaps McCain and his fellow Senators should explore the possibility of bringing back the draft. It's time the fight for freedom and liberties enjoyed by all, be borne by all.

    May 26, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. tj

    I don't want Obama to bring change. We need dollars. Clinton/McCain

    May 26, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. Willis, Texas

    MCSHAME'S WORDS: “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.

    WHAT A HYPOCRIT - MCSHAME DOESN'T FEEL THEY DESERVE A COLLEGE EDUCATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    MCSHAME SIGNED FOR THEM TO FIGHT IN A WAR BASED ON A LIE WHICH HE SIGNED AND NOW STANDS THERE USING EMPTY WORDS!!!!

    May 26, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. chisom

    If not for some bad republican leaders, we may need have need for this holiday, to celebrate the fallen heroes, and let their relatives mourn them, Please beware if you are planning to throw away your vote to another republican, its not worth it for life.
    Vote obama, and let the party begin!!

    May 26, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. tblno

    So not only does he want to fight a war for 100 years, but doesnt want to help to soldiers that he so claims to love......I would not even vote Mccain if I were a repub., and that is the God Honest truth. bring our troops home, we can not be so selfish.

    May 26, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Wang LI

    STOP McCain!

    May 26, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. ALL THE WAY TO THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE

    JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU GET THE NOMINATION!!!! WE WILL GET TO KNOW THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT YOU – THE TRUTH THAT IS NOT FINDING ITS WAY INTO MAINSTREAM MEDIA UNTIL THE NOMINATION IS OVER.

    GOT GIVE CREDIT TO THE CLINTON HATERS THAT HAVE MADE OBAMA'S NOMINATION POSSIBLE. THIS IS THE CANDIDATE THEY WANT FOR JOHN MCCAIN.

    JOB WELL DONE – 4 MORE EXCRUCIATING YEARS

    May 26, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. KLM

    I could care less if my taxes are raised to support healthcare,eductation, etc., for our troops. I will gladly pay it. Though I don't have any relatives in the war right now, it makes me extremely sad to hear about their suffering and getting no help when they "finally" come back home. It is unfair to send these men and women into a war (Iraq) that should never have been waged and us not take care of them. Our soldiers are heroes and so are their families. We must take better care of them. If McCain thinks we shouldn't help out then why doesn't he dust off his old uniform and go to Iraq and fight. Wait!!! Isn't he covered 100% on his benefits?????

    I love our troops but I detest McCain. These are Americans fighting in Iraq and we must take care of our own.

    May 26, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. No McSame

    Has anybody seen the VP today? Funny how he hides on this day. He must feel guilty about all of the men and women that have died for him, George Bush and John (Bush) McSame lies to go into Iraq.
    NoMcSame As Bush
    Obama08

    May 26, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Debby

    Good for Sen. McCain and he should also point out that in order to access the war and conditions of Iraq you have to go there which Obama hasn't done.

    May 26, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Anyone but HRC

    Is this the same bill that he didn't sign because he said it did nothing for "retention". This is the man who wants to thank our troops for their service by denying them the opportunity for a college education....as promised when they signed their contracts to serve. If they have college as an option, they are less likely to re-up after their contract is completed. So, take away their opportunities and leave them feeling forced to stay in the military. Talk about back door draft.

    Yeah...he's for the military alright.

    May 26, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Willie McGill, Graduate Student@DePaul University

    I certainly believes Senator McCain understands the issues affecting veterans. Therefore, veterans should overwhelming support Senator McCain's campaign for President of the United States.

    May 26, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. Keith from Adam county Indiana

    I am an Obama Supporter who actually like Senator McCain. However, I respectfully disagree with the notion that you cannot give the same benefit to a vet who served one term. The fact to the mater is once you serve and fight for your country whether for 1 year or 100 years you deserve the best opportunities. I did not serve, the least I can do is help and make sure those who served are well taken care of.
    THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO ALL OF OUR VETS, WE LOVE YOU, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE IN OUR PRAYER!
    GO BLESS THE VETS
    GO BLESS OUR NEXT PRESIDENT
    GOD BLESS AMERICA

    OBAMA/WHOMEVER '08

    May 26, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Glenn

    McBush thinks that because of his hero status he can be a warmonger and thumb his nose at the American GIs denying them the opportunity for additional education. What a shame! He is the elitist candiate of privedge and rank. He daddy and grand daddy were admirals and he was a naval academy graduate. He led a life of priviledge growing up and married a heiress of millions and lives a life of priviledge now. His attitude is to hell with the average grunts. He is the flip flopping, pandering candidate of priviledge.

    May 26, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. Sergio P.

    Well I dont think it matter how long you have served in the military to recieve the same type of benefits across the board. What if a 1 year term soldier or sailor loss their life is it less valuble. I think not.

    May 26, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Frank Ontario

    The human mind is a fragile thing and thousands of brave men and women are going to have to struggle to keep an even keel after just one tour in a horrific experience. Then you have the permanently maimed who will need attention to both their bodies and their minds without having a vehicle to further their futures through some form of eduation.

    Perhaps the people who keep commenting on John McSame should consider altering their comments to John McShame!!!!! What a phoney war monger is a better description than the over blown title of war hero.

    May 26, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. ron

    we have enogh deserters from the american armed forces in canada as it is. these guys sighned up for the freebies but when things got tough they ran . what are we supposed to do with them use them to replace our ouwn soldiers who died fighting your war. no thanks at least mccain's plan as more flexibility and i think unlike a lot of me people many soldiers would love to be able to have their children get ab education while they serve their country those people are more likely to be serious about drfending their country. how many terrorist have attacked the usa since bush got on their case.

    May 26, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. David Goldman for OBAMA

    MORE LIP SERVICE FROM A FRAUD.

    HE HAS NO IDEA WHAT OUR SOLDIERS HAVE TO GO THROUGH

    TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES & THEIR FAMILIES. HE LEFT THE

    WIFE THAT WAITED FOR HIM ALL THOSE YEARS & MARRIED

    PILL POPPER & HER MONEY. THEN ALSO STARTED TO DIP HIS

    GRUBBY FINGERS IN OTHER POCKETS. MCBIGOT CLOAKES

    HIMSELF IN THE AMERICAN FLAG, WHILE COMMITTING SHAME.

    May 26, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Ben

    McCain has lived a Democratic Party style of life all his life....How can he be a Republican?

    May 26, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. andrew s

    McCain is too old to lead this nation, he might forget important issue about our national security which can cause serious problems for Americans. so please John retire and go spend time with Cindy before your time is up. a word for a wise is quite sufficient

    May 26, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. Sharon R.

    John McCain's GI bill policy stinks. My father is a veteran with 21 years of service , my brother in law with 24 yrs,and my niece who has 5 yrs of military service. Mililtary personnel do not make much money unless they are a top officer. They deserve 4 yrs of college tuiton paid in full.
    My grandson is a high school basketball star in WA state and he has been offered a 4 year scholarship to a college that would cost $150,000.00 for a 4 yr tuition. What kind of country offers atheletes a better education than a person who puts his life on the line each day for us to have freedom and a safe environment to live in. Come on John McCain how low can you go as a veteran and war hero? I think you are senile in your old age.

    May 26, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. David Goldman for OBAMA

    THE MILITARY HAS ALWAYS HAD A CULTURE OF NOT

    COMPLAINING. WITH THEIR EDUCATION ALSO COMES A MIND

    OF THEIR OWN,THATCAN ANALYZE THE SITUATION & THEY ARE

    NOT SO SUSCEPTIBLE TO CRAP FROM THE LIKES OF MCCAIN

    THAT HS MILKED HIS POW STATUS TO THE HILT.

    May 26, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  25. Brown

    I agree with Proud Us Army Combat Vet statement. Being a vet myself McCain stance on the bill is a stupid one. How is being in the military two or three years unfair to the vets who have been in 10-20 yrs. Is it fair for the soldier who has been in only one two yrs. to be serving his or her second tour to the war zone and a soldier who has been in 20 to not have done one, but should be able to recieve full college benefits and the 2 0r 3 yr. soldier should not. Basically what you are saying is thank you for leaving your family, risking your life, possibly getting injured to the point where they can no longer use you in the military, but you just have not been in long enough. Thank you, but you just don't qualify. I don't think you qualify McCain.

    May 26, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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