McCain: Obama should own 'abject failure' in Middle East
October 22nd, 2012
04:50 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain: Obama should own 'abject failure' in Middle East

Boca Raton, Florida (CNN) – Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a top surrogate for Mitt Romney, unleashed some strong words against President Barack Obama on Monday, hours before the presidential candidates face off in their final debate.

Asked if Romney should give Obama credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, McCain said he believes all American credit the president with the raid but added Obama should also take responsibility for "the abject failure throughout the Middle East."

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"Al Qaeda is resurgent throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, all of North Africa, Libya, Mali. They're returning because we're weak," McCain said in the spin room at Lynn University, the site of Monday's debate in Boca Raton, Florida.

McCain's comments signaled Romney could take a similar line of attack during the presidential showdown and portray the unrest in the Middle East as a major failure for the president.

The 2008 Republican nominee said "everything is unraveling" in Iraq because of the president's policies, which included the final withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from the country late last year.

Obama's campaign, however, uses the troop drawdown as a selling point for the president on foreign policy. In a television ad released Monday, the campaign highlighted the decision, saying "it's time to stop fighting over there and start rebuilding here."

McCain, who's long been a vocal critic of the administration's handling of Syria, further blasted Obama for doing "absolutely nothing" to help protect citizens from the ongoing slaughter in the country.

"Just as many of us have predicted, it's beginning to spill over in to Lebanon, into Jordan, into the other countries in the region, and we are on the verge of a serious crisis," he said.

While Obama has spoken little about Syria, in August he warned the country against moving chemical or biological weapons, saying such force would cross a "red line" and "there would be enormous consequences" for Bashar al-Assad's regime.

McCain also questioned the president on Libya, saying the administration has failed to explain why it was not prepared for last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans.

"It's either absolute and total incompetence, or willfully deceiving the American people," McCain said. "How he thinks he can fool the American people on this one, I don't know."

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Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Foreign Policy • John McCain • Libya • Presidential Debates • Syria
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. ezduzit757

    This, from the man who brought us Sarah (I can see Russia from my house) Palin. McCain has proven himself to be an abject failure in foreign affairs – many times over.

    October 22, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Dave Jaipersaud

    As soon as Romney and the Republicans own the abject failure of their policies as it relates to the economy, policies that caused the Great Recession, only then will McCain words mean anything. The Republican Policies decimated the economy, caused the Great Recession and brought this country to its knees and now they want us to put them in charge again so that they can implement the exact same Republican Policies that wrecked the economy. We are not that stupid and we should not fall for their lies

    October 22, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Yonni

    .“Song Bird” starts singing again a war song. McCain is really mad not to have a chance to wage war in the Middle East. It is obvious that he loved war so much; if war was a child McCain would have adapted it. Hopefuly there will not be war in your life time.

    October 22, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. BigTBone

    Someone tell that old coot if he would have chosen Powell or Rice, he may have had a chance...

    The stain of Palin is like your worst Clorox nightmare. You'll never get it off of you.

    For someone who has seen what war can do, he's awful excited to get in a couple more of them...

    October 22, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. Intruth24

    Phil's favorite song:

    "I would not be just a nuffin'
    My head all full of stuffin'
    My heart all full of pain
    I would dance and be merry
    Life would be a ding-a-derry
    If I only had a brain"

    October 22, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. 2020

    McCain, you lost in 2008 and you lost your head since.

    Don't put your foot in your mouth again. You are not in Obama's league. He is way over your head.

    October 22, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. beevee

    The old hog McCain should shut up and let the president handle foreign policy. It is time for this old man to get out of politics senility is creeping in on him

    October 22, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. OldHippy47

    As a 2008 McCain Voter, I have been disappointed in Senator McCain's failure to keep his promise, to support and aid Our (then) newly elected President. Instead of using his prominent position in the Senate to seek bi-partisan solutions to our National domestic and Foreign Policy issues, McCain has joined other senior GOP leaders in letting the Know-nothing Tea-Liban extremists advance their agenda of "Just say No" to everything this President has tried to do. I guess I have expected too much from the Man who now sits in the Barry Goldwater seat in the Senate, and it's sad to see what the Republican Party, and the Conservative movement have come to in the 21st Century. Shame on All Senior Republicans for aiding in the destruction of the Once Grand Old Party !

    October 22, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. Paulcat

    McCain, where are those "WMD's"

    It's been 11 years and counting!

    October 22, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. RKN

    Obama has done much more to weaken Al Qaeda by eliminating leaders with drone strikes than Bush ever did.
    Was McCain telling Bush he had to own the abject failure of 2 wars based on lies?
    Were these people upset because they cannot control the world? and certainly not the middle east?
    Why do they think it is ours to control? Have some respect for other people and other cultures and they will not have a reason to attack us or throw bombs at us.

    October 22, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |

    The failure is Hussein Obama himself.

    October 22, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Mark Anderson

    Ah, I remember the wonderful days of 2009, when Lieberman, Graham, and McCain were all in Tripoli, sucking up to Gaddafi. Everyone else forget?

    October 22, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. Mark Anderson

    Whoops I misspelled Qaddafi, sorry about doing that to your old friend McCain.

    October 22, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Thomas

    McCain needs to retire !

    I love these GOP NeoCon old men.

    2000 Bush makes McCain bend over , 2008 McCain makes Romney Bend over , 2008 Obama bends McCain and Palin into a pretzel , and now McCain is bending over for Romney like a towel boy at the gyn !

    It's just one endless NeoCon circle jerk !

    Do we really want to elect grown men to Govern that bend over each other ?

    October 22, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Charlotte

    What McCain fails to know and understand about foreign policy would fill binders. He should just shut up.

    October 22, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. St. James Place

    Please someone lock up Willard's dog. McCain is a war hero but he has spent way to much time in the senate. Time to retire.

    October 22, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  17. Stellar12

    Is McCain nuts? We all know that the Republicans stir up war with everyone, McCain is a war monger, we knew G.W. Bush would take us into war if he got elected and we are still paying the price for that today. If Romney is elected he will push us over the edge into war again, his rhetoric is already inciting it. He is aggressive and antagonistic because he believes that is a show of strength. It is not and we know from history what we can expect if we put Romney in the white house, it will be catastrophic in terms of foreign affairs and we should all be afraid, very afraid.

    October 22, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  18. Gurgyl

    This dude is a senile. John, in old age brain becomes defunct. Please know and go to sun-room and relax. Do not be an idiot. Obama12.

    October 22, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. rs

    Sorry, Senator, just because Mr. Obama hasn't started two wars in his first term, I'd hardly call it a failure- perhaps I'd call it "success".

    October 22, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  20. Bob

    Hey Gramps, and "abject failure" is a navy "pilot" who crashes 5 jets........

    That's 5 airplanes the VC couldn't shoot down because Grampy already took them out.


    October 22, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. demsrule

    It must be really hard to defend a GOP candidate that absolutely nobody wanted to be the GOP candidate! To ignore the fact that Romney was the one who was so desperate- called a press conference to politicize the Libyan incident totally without intelligence information....FRIGGIN PRICELESS!

    October 22, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    All these people above commenting wouldn't have the balls to serve our country like Mccain did
    Correct. We would've learned how to fly the planes entrusted to us, for starters, versus crashing 5 of them.
    You really don't want to go there with some of us. Your hero was really a zero.

    October 22, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. Deez

    The only failure I see is the fact that McCain is listened to. Just don't look...

    October 22, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. Larry in Houston

    LOL – I've read Just about all these posts – to be perfectly honest – some of them are pretty funny-

    I wonder IF the debate moderator is going to ask : How many Houses do you Own ? or how many beach front property do you Own, or how many rental apartments do you own, Like what was done during McCain's Debate , 4 yrs ago.

    May the Best Man Win – 2012
    Hillary – 2016 ( with a "surplus" in – 2018 )

    October 22, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. eww

    McCain is sounding more and more like an bitter person. He has only himself to blame. He walked away from the VP nod from John Kerry in 2004 which could have been a winning ticket regardless of the improprieties in the state of Ohio then. He didn't accept it b/c he was promised he'd be the nominee in 2008. His missteps in 2008 caused him to lose the election. He at that time promised to be supportive of the president-elect, and he has chosen to be anything but. He's towed the line with the obstructionist republicans. He is on the Sendate Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security question to him would be why would he allow the House to decrease the budget needed for security at American embassies, particularly in the Middle East with all this uprising? Why wasn't he the 'maverick' then? Is he that ornery he needs to get back at Obama, rather than do the most effective job he can in the best interest of the American public? Or does he feel that the most effecive job can be done by Romney who has yet to present any plans in any detail whatsoever?

    October 22, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
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