March 18th, 2013
08:55 PM ET
5 years ago

McCain reacts to Paul's 'moss' comment

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain agrees that moss is bad - well, for the most part.

The Arizona Republican responded Monday to criticism lobbed by fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who argued the GOP was growing "stale and moss-covered."

Paul made his comments Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington, where thousands of conservatives gathered for three days to discuss the future of the GOP following big losses in the 2012 election.

Speaking on the Senate floor about the recent forced budget cuts - known as the sequester - and their impact on the military, McCain cited the intra-party critiques from last week's CPAC.

"References were made to people who were too old and moss-covered and that we need new, fresh individuals and ideas and thoughts. And I agree with all of those, every bit of those recommendations and comments," McCain said.

"But there is a little bit of benefit of being around for a while," the five-term senator added. "My friends, I'll tell you right now, I've seen this movie before."

McCain then resumed his topic of discussion, cautioning the government in a fiery speech against returning to its military levels following the Vietnam War.

Paul and McCain have been mired in a bit of tension recently. The 2008 GOP presidential nominee labeled Paul, and fellow freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, "wacko birds" earlier this month, not long after Paul's almost-13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor. Cruz had joined Paul in demanding that the Obama administration answer questions about its drone policies.

"I treat Sen. McCain with respect, I don't know if I always get the same in return," Paul said March 8 on Mike Huckabee's radio show.

A week later, McCain apologized.

"That was inappropriate and I apologize to them for saying that, and I respect them both. I respect what they stand for and what they believe in," McCain said Friday on Fox News.

- CNN Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

Filed under: John McCain • Rand Paul • Senate
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Anne

    I don't quite understand why Sen. McCain is apologizing. Okay, he probably shouldn't have referred to the Conservatives as "wacko birds"(although you have to wonder sometimes.) But his other comment was respectful enough. Experience etc. DOES help in politics It seems as if the older, establishment Repubs are afraid of, and even "cowtowing" to the younger, more conservative members of their party. They need to stand up to these people! Sen. McCain is absolutely right! He shouldn't be nervous about his comments.

    March 19, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. roger

    Yes John there are benefits that you can get from people that have been around for awhile. The important word here is awhile not FOREVER!!!! People like Mr. McCain, Karl Rove, and 80% of the Congress and Senate need to move on. Their ideas are old and stale as was horribly shown in the last presidential election. Time for fresh ideas and new blood.

    March 19, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. AgrippaMT

    Frankly, let's wish a pox on both McCain's and Paul's houses.

    March 19, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Billy davis

    The GOP not only has proven they don't like most Americans but they are making very clear that they don't like each other either.

    March 19, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    That "stuff" covering the GOP sure isn't moss.

    March 19, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    GOP = Grumpy Old Men. And that pic proves it.

    March 19, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. Change, yes - Right wing yard sale no

    The extremist in both parties only benefit because by in large most people in this country are completely fed up with elected leaders. People aren't voting for someone as much as they are voting against someone.

    March 19, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. sharon

    Sorry but I feel McCain was right. The young republicans have no respect for anyone. It isn't just a matter of disagreeing. I disagree with people frequently. But I am smart enough and courteous enough not to yell "You lie" to the president. Ryan, Rand Paul, Santorum,, Cruz and a few others are too volatile to be representatives. There are ways of getting your stance across to people without resorting to insubordination. The republican party has become a nasty, name-calling party. It seems to have started with us having a black president. They are not presidential material.

    March 19, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Dan

    Infighting is fun.

    March 19, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Science!

    Anne: McCain's apology was for the Wacko Bird comment, and was made before the 'Moss Covered' rebuttal.

    March 19, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @obama is Out Of yada yada: "McCain is the moss, its time the old step down and let the younger move this country in the right direction instead in the direction the wanna be dictator wants to take us."

    Rand Paul and his ilk do not have any new ideas; they cling to this failed philosophy that if everything were a free-for-all, everyone would live happily ever after.

    Funny thing, though: Not Paul nor you nor anyone can point to one instance in history where his "libertarian" ideas have produced a sustainable economy or just society.

    March 19, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. jack sprat

    No one is irreplaceable

    March 19, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Luke

    The Arizona Senator needs to decide who he is. He ought to know by now. Rand Paul is certainly right to suggest that this government is to be feared.

    March 19, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. mb2010a

    Republicans trashing other Republicans...gotta love it.

    March 19, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Bill

    Get off the stage McCain. You and Senator Gramnesty embody all that is wrong with the Republican Party.

    March 19, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. jay_hawk

    If John McCain and the other useless old dogs get out of the government and let new blood get some things done that is not in the lobbyist pockets than they would not have to worry about the moss.

    March 19, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Herbal Tea Party

    The Republican platform IS stale and moss covered. However, moving further to the right on issues as the 'young guns' would have the party do is idiotic. America is center right or center left (depending on the issue) and the operative word is 'center'. The idea at CPAC by Rubio, Palen, Cruz, etc of not changing the platform but instead better selling the platform is wrong headed. They need to remember the lipstick and pig joke. America is changing and the Republican Party risks becoming irrelevant if they stay locked into a stale and moss covered ideology.

    March 19, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Ol' Lefty

    I know, let's you and him fight it out!

    March 19, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Toonces

    Anyone that uses "Wacko Birds" in a sentence is too old and stale to be doing ANYTHING of importance.

    March 19, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. 1twinsfan

    Dang it! The photographer took the picture a second too soon. It's right before McCain punched the arrogant little twerp Sen. Paul.

    March 19, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Ibisdoc

    LOL at the democrat rapid response team posting comments in stories about Republicans

    March 19, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Scott

    There's no mystery, here. The reason the GOP is so old, white and male, is because their agenda only benefits old white men. Anyone who who values reproductive rights, non-white participation in the democratic process, or funding the running of a legitimate government by anyone other than the poorest and least powerful has zero reason to vote GOP.

    March 19, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. LouAZ

    All this respecting each other is ridiculous. You might respect the Office of United States Senator, but no one ever says that. It is clear they don't respect each other . . . and very liitle else about anything . . . except getting reelected.
    But , hey, these are some of the "best" the Repub/TPers have.

    March 19, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. ToldUSo

    It's one of those fights where you hope both lose. These Repub clubhouse fights are fun!

    March 19, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. Benjamin

    I've always believe that the GOP is a party of racists. Since Obama became President, these Republicans called him so many different attack names like Hitler, not born in the US, socialist, etc. Their hatred against the Black President is so prevalent that moderate and independent voters decided to reject them last election. The same thing will happen in the next election if these lunatics insist in their anti-immigration stance, anti-women stance, anti-abortion principle and continue to pander to the most wealthy Americans, despising the middle class over and over again.

    March 19, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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