Gingrich 'disappointed' in McCain
March 8th, 2013
04:47 PM ET
5 years ago

Gingrich 'disappointed' in McCain

(CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he's unhappy with Sen. John McCain for taking aim at Sen. Rand Paul, a fellow Republican, over the Kentucky senator's nearly-13 hour filibuster this week.

"I'm really disappointed in John McCain, and I'm very saddened by it," Gingrich said Friday on CNN's "The Situation Room." "McCain in his younger years was a great maverick. He took on his party all the time."

While McCain is never a shy critic of the Obama administration, he wasn't too pleased with Paul's own standoff against the president this week. The Kentucky senator blocked a confirmation vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan until the administration answered his question about drone policies. Fourteen Republicans and one Democrat joined Paul on the Senate floor throughout the day.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said Paul's argument wasn't "helpful to the American people." Along with fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain criticized Paul for drawing up paranoia that the Obama administration would consider killing Americans with drones.

McCain defended his argument Friday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

"I always do what I think is right. I think I understand national security, I've been invovled in it in one way or another since I was 17," he said, adding that the are more important priorities to spend 13 hours on, namely the ongoing unrest in Syria and the recent threats from North Korea as examples.

During his filibuster, Paul cited actress Jane Fonda, who notoriously protested against the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

"No one will ever forget Jane Fonda swiveling around in North Vietnamese armored guns, and it was despicable. And it's one thing if you're going to try her for treason, but are you just going to drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?" Paul asked during his marathon session.

McCain, who admitted Fonda wasn't his "favorite American," said on the Senate floor it was inappropriate to bring up such a hypothetical situation.

"Somehow to allege that the United States of America – our government – will drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda, that that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy to the realm of the ridiculous," the Arizona Republican sniped on the Senate floor.

Gingrich, however, said McCain was out of place.

"The idea that he's now lecturing the next generation because they had the guts to stand up–I would have thought John McCain would have applauded (Paul)," Gingrich said. "I don't know what's happened to John McCain but I find it very sad."

The 2012 presidential candidate said he sided with Paul's argument, saying he was right to demand more answers about how the law applies to the new technology.

And Paul himself responded to McCain's chiding on Friday, saying on Mike Huckabee radio show that he doesn't get the best treatment from McCain.

"I treat Sen. McCain with respect, I don't know if I always get the same in return," he said.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer what Gingrich makes of this apparent split among Republicans on the issue, he said "there's a deeper split. "

"It's a split about tone. There are some Republicans who are so used to going to nice restaurants in Georgetown and they're so used to hanging out with their friends in the establishment, that the tone bothers them," Gingrich said. "I saw nothing that Rand Paul did that was inappropriate."

Asked to respond to Gingrich's criticism, McCain said "Newt and I have been friends for many many years."

"I respect his opinions. He's a very bright guy," he said on "Piers Morgan Tonight." "We'll remain friends.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Ancient Texan

    Gingrich is correct; Graham and McCain were both out of line in their sniping at Rand Paul. He has the right to express himself just as much as either of them.

    March 8, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  2. skytag

    McCain and Graham are right. Either Rand Paul has been taken in by right-wing paranoia or he was pandering to people who have been taken in by it.

    March 8, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. NorCalMojo

    Does anyone really care what McCain says anymore? I know he has a lot of clout in the senate, but in the world of ideas, he's a lame duck.

    March 8, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  4. mdn

    I love to see the Republican civil war. Keep it coming.

    March 8, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  5. liz OH

    For those who said he should have asked Holder, he did and couldnt get a straight NO. But now today we have a NO and thats what yesterday was all about making Obama's people answer to the American people. kudos to Paul and the others

    March 8, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  6. Hillcrester

    Are we never going to be rid of Gingrich?

    March 9, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  7. bob

    As a conservative I am sick of the status quo in both parties. The same ole same ole idiots are elected year in and year out.

    March 9, 2013 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  8. LostInVegas

    I remember a time when Bush was President that Liberals were all worked up about privacy in wiretapping Americans without a warrant and it was all over the media but Liberals won't question Obama on a drone policy that has the ability to kill Americans without due process.

    March 9, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  9. tact

    I may have many disagreements when it comes to congressional obstructionism from both sides of the political spectrum but this one I have to agree with. Rand Paul used the filibuster for it's intended purpose on an issue that definitely bears scrutiny in regards to a citizens right to due process. Democrat or republican, this issue effects us both.

    March 9, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  10. BOB

    Paul made history he is the first person to get any politician to ans a simple question which was YES or NO neither ans can be challenged in court . only one definition for either word. its a shame it took 13 hrs for the administration to ans a simple question

    March 9, 2013 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  11. North Dallas Don

    Nothing like hearing the champion of "family values" (at least two adulterous affairs, three marriages, etc.) attack a Republican colleague who also failed to keep his first marriage together. Yep, the Republicans are a good example to us all.

    March 9, 2013 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  12. JPX

    I love how Newt refers to McCain as a "maverick" as if that's a good thing. A "maverick" is someone who refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter. This is why the world has to deal with Sarah Palin now. I don't want a "dissenter" in my senator.

    March 9, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  13. Marita

    Mr. Paul asked a legitimate question! John McCain appears to have gotten very bitter, post-election. I have very much admired his distingu ished career/service, and would probably have voted for him, had it not been for his unfortunate choice in Sarah Palin as his running-mate! Now I only hope, that he will retire soon. It would be such a shame for him to tarnish his reputation any further. I would like to remember him as he used to be. – @Marita.

    March 9, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  14. Marry

    Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Rand Paul (L), Lindsey Graham, and MANY more are GOP names that all have issues that make them all be "out of place” big time. A clown car is not enough – they need a very large bus to move around!

    March 9, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  15. dcj

    I Find it amusing how loyal Democrats either do not understand what Paul did here, or they are just conditioned to automatically disagree with anyone with an R after his/her name. Paul was challenging not only Obama but also Bush Cheney. He was challenging the notion that the executive branch of our government can do WHATEVER it wants so long as it is in the name of national security.

    March 9, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  16. Pres

    It is high time this senile man retire. He is eating too much of tax payers money.

    March 9, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  17. Jeff

    The revolution is being fought in our minds everyday. It is time to notice who is polishing the brass on the current two party system. Fight them in word. Drown out their boot licking. What does it take to be an enemy combatant? The King's decree? Overseen by who? Join or die. Progress meet your spouse: authentic Liberalism.

    March 9, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  18. Clarke

    Well I must say I am disappointed in all of them.

    March 9, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  19. snowdogg

    McCain has been erratic since his election loss. Time for him to step down and make way for some new blood.

    March 9, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  20. iceload9

    It did move attention away from the big 3 for 13 hours, unemployment, runaway healthcare costs and corporate welfare.

    March 9, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. budsview

    well i do agree that the whole show that paul put on was a terrible waste of time for all concerned, except that the administration required him to do something drastic to get a simple answer, that any of us should expect to be answered simply and honestly the first time its asked. why was it soooo difficult for holder to supply an answer??? and its pauls problem that people are thinking that this administration might use drones on us citizens????

    March 9, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  22. SK in VA

    "I don't know what's happened to John McCain but I find it very sad," Gingrich said. Yeah, yeah. This former Republican, now Independent, says the same about the Republican party and its nutty leadership like Gingrich and Paul.

    March 9, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  23. Thomas Henley

    Rand Paul absolutely did the right thing...when the US Government in any form or guise starts talking about side stepping Habeas Corpus, the government's legal and moral obligation to present a body of evidence through a prescribed legal process, free people's most fundamental right since the 1100's and the Magna Carta everyone should be standing up and at the very least asking questions...ideally having the wisdom to just say no!

    March 9, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  24. nytw

    Why does anyone in the world care about what Newt Gingrich thinks about anything.

    March 9, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. John

    Personally I think the media is more to blame for Ron Paul then anyone else. I think the media should be questioning something like US drone policies more carefully. In fact I have never seen the media so hands off of a President in a long time. Ron Paul I think just got tired of just business as usual in these matters. People are so upset about privacy with everyone else. But seem to let anything the President wants go right past?

    March 9, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
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