Washington (CNN) – Republican Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, plan to go to Egypt at President Barack Obama’s request as soon as next week, Graham confirmed to CNN.
“We were talking to the president a week or two ago and he said if this continues to deteriorate, we are going to need to reinforce our message here, and he thought if it came from us it would be even more powerful,” Graham said.
Graham said the idea originally came from Secretary of State John Kerry, who thought it was important for military leaders to hear first-hand from members of Congress, especially members of the president’s political opposition, that key players in the U.S. are on the same page. Graham and McCain met several times with members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the past.
“They want it to be someone from the Congress, not just the executive branch, so we can make it real to them that Congress is not going to tolerate a military takeover and throwing everyone in jail,” Graham said.
He said their message will be that they “expect you to move to a democratically elected government sooner rather than later, and putting people in opposition in jail is not sustainable.”
Graham said it is still unclear when they will go and who they will meet with in Egypt, but that’s being worked out by the State Department.
“This is the way it used to be. All hands on deck. We want it to be that way again,” Graham said, referring to international crises.
He also noted that McCain going to Egypt on the president’s behalf should be especially symbolic, since he is not just Republican senator but Obama’s former opponent for the White House.
“I think it really does demonstrate how democracy works. They didn’t put John McCain in jail so he could never come back again,” Graham said.
“He has been helpful and challenging,” Graham said of McCain’s actions towards Obama since the GOP presidential nominee lost to the then-senator from Illinois in 2008. “This is the way over time things can work.”