September 21st, 2007
04:25 PM ET
15 years ago

Protesters interrupt McCain at NRA

McCain's speech to the NRA was interrupted by war protesters. 

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain took a swipe Friday at those demanding that U.S. troops return from Iraq, saying, "We won't choose to lose."

After two members of the anti-war group Code Pink interrupted McCain's speech to the National Rifle Association, the Arizona Republican said, "Well, my friends, we beat you yesterday. We beat you the day before. We'll beat you today and we'll beat you tomorrow. We won't choose to lose. We won't choose to lose this conflict."

McCain seemed to address both the protestors and supporters of amendments offered by Senate Democrats this week that would have either cut funding for the war or called for a timetable for withdrawing troops in Iraq. All of the amendments either failed to get a majority or the 60 votes required by Senate rules to proceed in the face of a GOP filibuster.

The protesters were escorted out of the room after the disruption.

McCain was the first of four presidential candidate to address the NRA in person and the first to take a swipe at two GOP rivals.

"A number of big city mayors decided it was more important to blame the manufacturers of a legal product than it was to control crime in their own cities," said McCain, in a veiled attack on Rudy Giulaini, who initiated a lawsuit against gun manufacturers when he was mayor of New York.

McCain went on to attack former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the former governor's recent admission that he likes to hunt "small varmints."

"If you show your bona fides by hunting ducks or varmints or quail it makes up for support of gun control," said McCain. "This myth overlooks a fundamental truth, the Second Amendment is not about hunting, it's about freedom."

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also spoke at the event. Giuliani may have faced the most resistance from the group because of the lawsuit.

In his speech, Giuliani addressed those differences head on, saying, "There are probably a few things we disagree about. But there are many more things that we have in common."

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tennessee, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also addressed the crowd and both touched on long-held beliefs in Second Amendment rights.

Thompson told the NRA audience that his position on gun control has not changed since his first days as senator.

"I will say the same things that I have been saying since 1994 and that I say in New Hampshire and what I say in Florida and all parts in between," Thompson said. "My philosophy does not depend on my geography and I thought it was time I laid down that marker early on."

Huckabee had a similar sentiment, telling the audience that he isn't a new member of the NRA, "I didn't just join last year. I've been a part of the organization for a while. Not only am I a member, but my wife is as well."

- CNN Producer Xuan Thai


Filed under: NRA • Presidential Candidates
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Del M. LA, CA

    Why protest McCain. Sure, he's nuts, but nobody is paying attention to him anyway.

    September 21, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. laurinda,shokan,ny

    Who cares about the NRA. They are just a bunch of Elmer Fudds.

    September 21, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Fairfield, Ohio

    It is not a question of 'choosing to loose', we already have lost. Bush just refuses to face up to the fact.

    On gun control, the second amendment says, 'In order to insure a well regulated milita......' pronounced 'national guard'. From my point of view, all other fire arms are fair game for regulation.

    As the NRA has never challenged any gun regulation in court, they also read it that way, and they know that if they go to court, they WILL loose.

    September 21, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  4. Dan (Columbia, MD)

    Let's see the the second amendment in its entirety:

    [i]A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, [b]the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.[/b][/i]

    It's pretty cut and dry when you don't take it out of context.

    And we have not lost this war. No one said it would be easy and we didn't win past wars because thing got hard and we lost our resolve.

    Watch what happens if we pull out and leave the Iraqi people the fascist radical islamic jihadists. We will see a bloodbath not seen since the killing fields of Cambodia.

    Unless you defeatists on the left want to see us back there in a few years we needs to finish what we started.

    September 21, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. John Adkisson, Sacramento, CA

    I have never taken seriously the comments about Mr. McCain's age as being a handicap in running for President. However, his recent performances and demeanor simply indicate a man who has lost his balance and former intellectual stability. He sounds like a railing Grandpa Simpson, striking out against eveything - as opposed to 2000 when he was a maverick who made sense.

    September 21, 2007 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Paul, Phoenix, Arizona

    There's never a Taser around when you need one.

    September 21, 2007 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  7. Carmen, Miami FL

    And with that, the unthinkable has happened: McCain has sunk to a new low.

    Is he trying to start a new Republican talking point? "Choosing to lose"? Pathetic, and quite frankly, disrespectful and insulting. This man has no chance, thankfully enough. Too bad the people getting "beaten" aren't Democrats or anti-war protesters, but the Iraqi people and our troops.

    Anyway, the NRA? Ew. I wish politicians would stop paying attention to them.

    September 21, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. SPM, Orlando, FL

    McCain must be completely oblivious to the fact that the majority of Americans want us out of Iraq. He just insulted over half the country with his lame tough talk.

    September 21, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  9. Lydia Mpls, MN

    "We won't choose to lose."

    Oh dude, we already did.

    September 21, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  10. Samantha Altamonte Springs Fl

    Though not a McCain supporter or a supporter of the NRA per say, "the right to bare arms" is about freedom. Often you must look to the writings and communications between the founding fathers as the courts have to done to interpret intent. Though the "militia" was specifically mentioned the intent was so not to restrict the people if they needed to take up arms in the event the government usurped too much power.

    September 21, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. Glen

    These Comments can not be from Responsible US citizens. I pray!

    September 21, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  12. Mary Doan, Palm Coast, Florida

    The NRA says it is a defender of the 2nd amendment. Someone needs to ask NRA leaders if they believe in the 1st amendment. Do they belief that all speech is covered, or can some free speech be regulated to protect the public, such as falsely crying "fire" in a crowded theater? If it is fair to curtail some speech to protect the public, is it not fair to curtail some weapons to protect the public? Today's gun in not the gun of our forefathers.

    September 21, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. A Henderson, Bham Ala

    McCain, you're irrelevant. And watching you pander to this pack of neaderthal right wing wackos just proves it. And by the way, the "conflict" as you call it is already lost. It's lost because it was founded on lies and deception. The US, shockingly, painfully, is on the wrong side of history. And this is thanks largely to you and your ilk.

    September 21, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  14. Tim, Waterville, Maine

    Those critical of the NRA need to keep this in mind. Those that want to obtain guns illegally will always do so.

    Gun control laws are for law abiding citizens to be disarmed so that they can be controlled easier.

    We have to keep in mind that we may be facing a Monarchical Tyranny from within our country. If the government wants to open war on it's own civilians, it is the Militias armed with guns that will protect us.

    Militias are made up of the American people, doctors, lawyers, nurses, gas station attendants, EVERYONE.

    One of the signs of Fascism is gun control for resisters, that's a fact.
    When they impose a NAU on the Americans how will we fight back?

    September 21, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. Turner, Virginia

    There have been an average of 160,000 troops in theater (IRAQ) during the last 22 months, which has a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000.

    The rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000.

    That means that you are 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation’s Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.

    Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington, D.C.

    In 2005, 16,885 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. What should we outlaw, cars or alchol?

    September 21, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. Dan, Chandler, AZ

    Using most of the logic posted here, WWII was none of our business either. We should have let Hilter take over and just protect ourselves, right???

    Go back to your history classes and get an education.
    Thank God our ancestors weren't the short sited quitters most of you are professing here.
    Our children will be glad common sense is winning in the decision to win in Iraq today and not fight the entire Middle East 5-10 years from now when they all have nukes.

    How many times do we have to go through another 9/11 before you wake up to reality?

    Answer this: What are you going to say the day a nuke goes off in NYC or LA??? And then we find out ever major city in the US has a nuke and if we don't become Islamist's they will detonate a nuke every day in a different city until we surrender. Then what??? Don't think it will happen??? Let Iran continue developing nukes and see.

    I only hope we have a Republican President at the time....I won't bow to Allah.....will you?
    Shooting a few cruise missiles into the desert won't help then either.

    And as for taking my guns that I leagally own....NOT!

    Try realizing that the majority of crimes commited with guns are by people who illegally possess them. Try enforcing the gun laws when a convicted fellon is caught possessing one and leave my legal gun omnership alone.
    Do you really think more gun regulations will stop the criminals who already are not allowed to posess them???

    Why don't you ban alcohol?????
    More people are killed by drunk drivers!

    If your going to take up a cause.....learn all the facts.

    September 21, 2007 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  17. William, Miami, Florida

    John McCain has already chosen to lose. We're going t listen to him???

    September 21, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  18. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Those crazy Code Pink babes give legit protesters and activists a bad name, hence their relative lack of credibiltiy compared to more politically sophisticated groups like MoveOn.org. We can disagree and debate civilly by asking good direct questions and listening to complete answers, unlike the political pundits on both sides who simply blather over their guests (e.g. Matthews, Abrams, Blitzer and others).

    September 21, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  19. Christian, Tampa FL

    What McCain said is a slap in the face to 65% or more of the American public who want the War in Iraq to end, and end now. The Senator and his GOP colleagues are joining Bush in forcing this nation to continue to endure a war that we no longer want to be a part of.

    McCain's comments are a put-down to Democracy as a whole.

    September 21, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  20. florida!

    Thank God sombody who knows what they are talking about!!! These people should not be able to call themselves US citizens! pathetic! -Active duty military member

    September 21, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. Wes, California

    How does one define "arms?" Simply, as GUNS–or weapons of any kind? What about knives? Acid? Bombs? Would we all feel safer if everyone was loaded to the teeth with any and all of the above–in college classrooms, airplanes, subways? May sound crazy, but that's been an argument set forth by the likes of Pat Buchanan and even Ron Paul–for whom now I've lost all respect.

    While the NRA loves to make this issue about individual freedoms, it's really the gun manufacturers and their profits they're looking out for. Help close the gun show loopholes, Sen. McCain (and your GOP buddies) and maybe more people would take you seriously when you're talking about "protection" for our citizens. Until then, you're giving crooks, illegal aliens and even terrorists ample opportunity to harm us in unimaginable ways.

    And as for Tim in Maine–wake up, it's the 21st Century! The only militias I'm aware of are in Iraq and Somalia. Right here and right now, it's not the government I fear, but punk teenager who wants to prove how "bad" he is when you look at him the wrong way. We live in an instant gratifaction, kneejerk society, and the truth is you can uncurl a fist–but you can't take back a bullet once you pull the trigger.

    September 21, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  22. Van, Raleigh NC

    I don't want my neighbors to have artillery batteries or thermo-nuclear devices just because they might feel more "freedom" by doing so. A total ban on guns is a bad idea, but they ought to be regulated at least as well as we regulate automobiles.

    The nut cases who think a bunch of yahoos with small arms can defeat the military might of the United States should be institutionalized. They claim in the same breath to love our country AND want to overthrow the government. Well go ahead and stockpile your .45s and AKs while the rest of us wait for you to receive your satellite-guided gifts.

    September 21, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  23. Dan, Chandler, AZ

    Go buy yourself a clue already about gun control!
    Haven't they passed enough stuoid laws in CA???

    You'll save more lives by banning alcohol.
    Isn't that what you want, to save lives?

    Your more likely to get killed by a drunk drive than a teenager with a gun.

    September 21, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  24. Dan, Chandler, AZ

    FYI, CA
    Your the state that passed a bill requiring the registering of all assualt rifles.
    The next year they banned them and sent the gun police out taking them away from law abiding citizens.

    Is that accepatable to you???
    That's what the NRA is against.

    September 21, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  25. Alex, San Francisco California

    First of all, NRA does matter, to both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats lost congress in 1994, because of a gun control legislation.
    Second, Iraq is not about winning or losing. It's about stopping sectraian violence, so we can pull out leaving no power vacuum.
    We started this mess for all the wrong, we are responsible for it.
    Third, when we pull out, if sectarean viloence persist, saudis and Iran will move in. It can possibly lead to an open conflict between Saudis and Iran. This would include bombing each others oil fields. If this happens, gas will be over $60 a gallon. But by then China and Russia will have moved in, and we'd have to move in, as well. As China and Russia are likely to do so on Iran's side...
    Now if that's not WWIII scenario, I don't know what is.
    Yeah, we have to pull out of Iraq. The problem is we have to figure out how to do so without having the conflict escalate when we pull out.
    Say what you will, there are no simple answers. Do the crime serve the time. And our troops are serving it for this administration and Congress, who are equally responsible for this disaster, despite what they say.
    This is not about winning or losing. We lost troops and keep losing troops, the intangible winnings do not compare to the value of the lost human life. On the other hand, possibility of having to go in there again at even a greater cost in lives of our troops, is something to consider.

    September 21, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
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