November 5th, 2012
10:12 AM ET
5 years ago

McCain: Veterans' anger over Benghazi could affect election

(CNN) – With less than 24 hours to go until Election Day, Republican senator and former presidential nominee John McCain said he's seen unprecedented anger from veterans over the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that could influence Tuesday's election.

"I've been traveling all over the country and veterans are angry. They're angry; they're upset; they don't trust Barack Obama. There's 1.6 million of them in Florida, for example. I think they could have an impact on this election," said McCain appearing on CNN's Starting Point Monday.

Watch CNN's comprehensive coverage of Election Day starting at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday on CNN TV and follow online at or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. For up-to-the-minute results, go to and for our real-time Election Day live blog, check out Need other reasons to watch Election Day coverage on CNN's platforms? Click here for our list.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

While conceding the focus of this election is jobs and the economy, McCain said "I've never seen veterans as upset and as angry as they are over Benghazi."

McCain, a war veteran himself, has been a high-profile voice in a powerful chorus critical of President Barack Obama's administration's handling of the attack in Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

"This cover up is worst that I've ever seen, either incompetence or cover up. There was no demonstration," he said. Critics have accused the administration of laying blame for the attack on mobs angered by an anti-Muslim movie and for failing to properly recognize the security threat in the region.

"There was no demonstration there," McCain repeated. "There was no hateful video and the Libyans called it right away and everybody knows it."

On a lighter note, the man who was in Republican nominee Mitt Romney's shoes this time four years ago and the last presidential candidate to faceoff with then-Illinois Sen. Obama said right now Romney is feeling the "adrenaline."

"You're going hard and you know really this is your last shot," said McCain of the final days of his presidential bid in 2008. "We certainly did know that in 2008 because we were aware of the polls but it's such an exciting and incredible experience. And how few people in history have ever had the opportunity."

Joking, the Arizona senator added:

"I have a line that I use all the time: After I lost, I slept like a baby: sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours, wake up and cry"

–CNN's Michael Pearson contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • John McCain
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. BigTBone

    When Geraldo has become the voice of reason, you know you're grasping for anything. All Benghazi has done was reveal what hacks there are over at looney tunes news.

    Do these pubs think that every veteran or current military member is an angry white guy from Tulsa?

    There are quite a few blacks, hispanics, women and poor people in the armed forces. Are they going to vote for the 1%er who basically called them victims?

    November 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. Anthony

    Benghazi is a manufactured non-scandal. Obama called it an act of terror the next day, but it took a while for the intelligence community to make sense of all the available information about the attack. Intelligence people are cautious by nature and they need to cover all contingencies. They can't jump to conclusions. We went to war in Iraq on false intelligence, and over 4000 of our troops died.

    November 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. Bill from GA

    An article by Maggie Michael and Sarah El Deeb of Associated Press, in the Atlanta newspaper, dated September 12, 2012, said:
    " A movie attacking Islam’s prophet Muhammad sparked assaults on U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday. "
    " The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. "

    Immediately following the attacks, little information was KNOWN.

    So why are McCain, the republican party, and Fox 'news' trying to use these attacks against the President? The answer is, of course, they will try anything to get a few more votes. But for McCain to use his lies to sway veterans is beyond shameful.

    November 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. jkane sfl a vote for lady parts romney the tax cheat and lyin lady parts ryan willcut your moms medicare and soc sec . .can you afford to pay for them???

    I think the veterans might be a lot more mad over the 3000 dead in the 9-11 attacks and the 4500 Iraq war dead all on the gop watch !!!!!

    November 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Senator McCain, Veterans are angry because GWB wavered and gave the mastermind of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil a slap on the wrist and his freedom into Pakistan. During the 2002 battle of Tora Bora, our forces on the ground briefed the U.S. state department and notified it that OBL and his al Qaeda regime were cornered and had no where to escape to. Then GWB wavered by ordering General Tommy Franks to retreat and let the Mugahadeen go forward and take control of the operation because in GWB's words, "the terrain is too tuff and the mission too risky." Just imagine if President OBama had made such mental mishap when SEAL Team 6 had the opportunity to take out OBL. That would have been a tragedy in itself. And the end result of GWB's wavering was OBL's escape into nuclear based Pakistan to regroup and threaten America once more. So just imagine GWB tells General Tommy Franks to withdraw the world's best trained and equipped forcess for a group of dirt farmers to overtake such a covert and important undertaking. Perhaps that was the softer side of Dick Cheyney's foreign policy. Senator McCain, its time to resign and take care of your grandchildren.

    November 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. judy

    shouldnt McCain be retired by now. I guess we need to get one more dig in before election. Forward.

    November 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Dar

    If anyone of you that claim Obama is or did the right thing in Libia have a son or daughter that was murdered there??

    Of course not, so how can you say one thing about it if you dont know the truth?

    It shouldn't take this long to get answers, 2 months, come on. This is all being played off by the Obama administration and you know it. So stop acting like little sissy tree huging wimps and ask yourself this.


    It makes me wonder why our troops protect people like you so you can spew your dumbness.
    God help us all

    November 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Did McCain ever say are VETs are angry when Bush started a war in Iraq based upon lies about WMDs and over 5,000 US men and women were killed in war? What is McCain trying to sell this time around that he couldn't sell in 2008 and prior years because he certainly doesn't recognize we still have troops in the Middle East.

    November 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. NoTags

    As a vet I mourn for the loss of our people in Benghazi, however I can't mourn for them more than other military and diplomatic service members who have given their lives in conflicts around the world.

    At this point no one really knows what ACTUALLY took place in Benghazi, but Fox News keeps stirring the pot on this incident. Does Fox News have better sources and more information on this incident than other news organization? I seriously doubt it!

    Everyone just needs to remember when Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan the initial published reports of his cause of death were inaccurate. It took 3 years for the fact that he was killed by 'friendly fire' to be released.

    November 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. tct


    Your righteous stand against the birthers to defend the Constitution gave me hope, your scurrilous defamatory ad against Carmona (a decorated Green Beret) and placing partisanship ahead of country dashed that hope. Your alienation of people in another part of your life will probably go public and forever stain your reputation. I thank God that Slade Cutter didn't live to see you fall this low (although, like all who knew him well, I still miss him deeply).

    Tom in Tucson

    November 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Ryan

    "Why we don't trust politics?" Everyone should read the article, and then you'll understand how MSNBC and Fox News exploits us. CNN is the only credible news organization left. I hope they never sell out for profit or increase ratings. They should expose daily MSNBC and Fox News for the propaganda machines they are.

    November 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. Kentucky Burbon

    No one died in Watergate, How many died for Bushes lie vote for the President because we dont need another Son of a Bush in the Whitehouse and that's just what Romeny is... McCain has finally showed his true colors

    November 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Funny how so-called leaders and veteran voices such as McCain never wanted to talk about phony WMDs and illegal invasions of a foreign country that had never harmed a single American. The vast majority of Americans are moving on from a tragic episode in the relentlessly tragic and messy Middle East. You want to talk Libya? How about Obama's invaluable assistance in removing one of the worst dictators of the 20th century, a scum bag who had actually harmed Americans? McCain needs to go home and stay there. Yet, he remains entrenched and drunk on Senatorial favors and privilege and power. The cash register just keeps ringing in his favor. Oh yes, and he's still very proud of that disappearing carnival act named Palin.

    November 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. jnpa

    Of course McCain will say that on the eve of the election. The GOP is desperate and I expect to see alot more Obama bashing between now and tomorrow night. If the GOP thought they would win this, they would not have McCain and others making these accusations, conjectures and speculations the day before the election. The push is on for them!

    November 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Embarrased by Cheap Romney Tactics

    Veterans' anger about being sent to their deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan for absolutely no reason by ignorant republican presidents like Bush and republican senators like McCain will definitely effect the election.

    November 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. mb2010a

    Well, this Vet is NOT one of McCain's unhappy vets. I already voted for Obama and I encourage all veterans to do the same. Mitt Romney is a slacker and a draft-dodger and I could never vote for him...sorry. Obama 2012...

    November 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    From the man who gave us the mutant bimbo from AK and passed on the twit. Stop it with Benghazi old man!
    Crashed any military planes lately?

    November 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. Pander Bear

    Gee the vets are angry about Benghazi but AOK with the GOP voting against everything from body armor to medical care to jobs programs for vets. Maybe you should start talking to some recent war vets from Iraq and Afghanistan instead of old white men left over from WWII.

    November 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Kentucky Burbon

    If I performed my Job the way congress has performed theirs I would be FIRED! McCain should do the Honorable thing and resign, along with several others in congress. What they have done is a disgrace to the fabric of this country to obstruct at the expence of the people. This is evident that term limits are needed. 2 4 year terms for congressmen and 2 6 year terms for senators and their pay should be whatever the medium income is for Americans, and they should receive the same healthcare that the rest of those on "Public Assistance" should recieve. Congressional benefits, pay, and perks are the biggest welfare scame in the world

    November 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. archon41

    In view of the danger signs streaming from Benghazi, there can be no excuse for our failure to anticipate this attack and have forces positioned to crush it. The purpose of this video meme is to distract from the fact that we had ample notice of the danger.

    November 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. Old Soldier

    I'm a vet: retired with 30 years in combat boots plus time in Civil Service as an employee who went TDY OCONUS many, many times; my federal service totalled 42.5 years. I don't distrust nor feel angry about the President's handling of the consulate attack. He took a measured response, waiting until after the "fog of war" effect dissipated. Any vet or adult civilian understands real life: when something bad happens, you can either take a knee-jerk reaction (do something stupid) or gather all information then make an informed decision about actions to take. Mr Romney's concept to provide the local anti-establishment forces with heavy weapons is stupid and a massive knee-jerk. It was bad enough when we provided covert support to anti-establishment forces in Afghanistan: who turned out to be Taliban, not the nice-guy folks called Mujahadeen (remember how nice they were in the Rambo movie?). Providing overt support won't be seen by rational folks around the world: it will be seen as Empire Building! We don't have the responsibility nor authority to take any unilateral actions to depose despots....unless it is a collective agreement by the United Nations Security Council. Just like we did in Libya. And seriously: there is zero capacity to provide complete security to any consulate, business, or individual OCONUS. They hate us folks. They want to kill our people. Even an occupying force of professional soldiers lose people every day. So drop the BS and get real. The POTUS is our CinC....real vets understand that! Tchuss!

    November 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Wes Monroe

    Why all the rhetoric............Romney wins tomorrow and Wednesday this country starts to get back on track. None too soon I might add.

    November 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    That might be a possibility. On the other hand, when did people really care, about what is RIGHT?

    November 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Hogan's Goat

    I am visualizing "Bill Pike's" military career: he worked in a kitchen peeling potatoes and mopping floors. Nothing wrong with that, and it's necessary service, but people who have killed and seen friends die aren't usually either so unrealistic as to think troops can just jump out of a plane and start going Rambo, or so bloodthirsty about wanting to send others into harm. By the time we knew half of what had happened, the ambassador was dead, and it was 9-11 all over the world, You don't trot over to the prez every time you need military response; that's the generals' job. The prez is too busy to respond in realtime. Pretending Obama WANTED the ambassador dead is childish and hateful; no way any grown man believes that noise.

    November 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. NYGirl

    Good for the Vets. Obama wants people to forget we had four guys killed while he worried about his next campaign location. What kind of Commander and Chief is that? I wouldn't put my life in hs hands and neither should our soldiers.

    November 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12