March 3rd, 2008
04:23 PM ET
12 years ago

McCain: I am the best at 3 a.m.

 McCain said Monday he's best equipped to handle a 3 a.m. crisis.

McCain said Monday he's best equipped to handle a 3 a.m. crisis.

(CNN) – Each of the two Democratic presidential contenders said this weekend they were best-suited to handle a foreign policy crisis should the phone ring in the White House at 3 a.m. On Monday, John McCain said they were both wrong.

"I would believe that my knowledge and experience and background clearly indicates that if the phone rang at 3 a.m. in the White House, and I was the one to answer it, I would be the one most qualified to exercise the kind of judgment necessary to address a national security crisis," McCain said at a campaign stop in Phoenix.

"I've been involved in every major national security challenge for the last 20 years that has faced this country," he added. "I look forward to having that debate as to who's most qualified in the event of a national crisis and the phone ringing at 3 a.m. in the White House."

McCain's comments follow dueling campaign ads from Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that pose the scenario of a foreign crisis in the early morning hours. Clinton's ad, which launched first, argues the New York senator is more experienced to handle such a situation. Hours later, the Obama campaign launched a spot in response that says his initial opposition to the Iraq war proves he has the better judgment to deal with 3 a.m. emergencies.

- CNN's Tasha Diakides contributed to this report

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Jose Card - Independent

    Do we have an amendment to our Constitution for setting an age limit for presidential candidates?

    No, we don't. Then why do we discriminate the candidates by age here?
    President Reagan was 74 to start his second term. His famous speech in 1987 when he was 76, "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall." marked the end of the Cold War without firing a shot. I would rather have an older leader with great character than a young fool lacking any character or conviction.

    March 3, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. JR from Philadelphia

    If Hillary Clinton is up at 3 am, it's probably because she can't find Bill, not because she's working late or handling a crisis. I trust Barack Obama to answer the phone in the White House at any hour. You would thlnk, after all he suffered in Vietnam, that Sen. McCain would do his utmost not to send our sons and daughters to a similar debacle. Like Hillary Clinton, McCain wasn't thinking of the best interests of our country or our troops – he voted for the war out of political expedience. The Straight Talk Express is neither.

    March 3, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  3. Marie

    Sadly.....I do not think McCain is the man for the job, but if Hillary Clinton somehow gets the Democratic nod after all her whining and divisiveness.......I would switch sides and vote McCain!

    March 3, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. JS Virginia

    I still want to know who calls the White House at 3 A.M. and actually gets the President. Wouldn't it be more intelligent to call someone who will actually fix the problem? haha.

    March 3, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. Pat M Canada

    Well Hillary isn't in Obama's Shoes or John's Shoes she's in her Shoes and her Shoes are Made for Walkin into the White House.

    And Americans know as well as I do, she is the most dependable to get the jobs required done, has the know how to do them, and won't quit till she succeeds in making life better for ALL AMERICANS.
    She can DO IT and has Proven it already. Neither of her opponents have that track record, not even John McCain with his years in politics..

    March 3, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  6. Rockdad50

    How about a 25 mile bike race between 72 year old Dr. Ron Paul, and 71 year old John McCain? In a winner take all for the nomination, debate race. Must be broadcast live on CSPAN so we get some good fair and balanced questions. My money will be on the good Dr. for his debate answers, and to win this race.

    March 3, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. Bradley Schaubs, Greeley, CO

    If the phone rang at 3 AM and McCain answered, that right there would be the start of Armagedon.

    March 3, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  8. Trev

    Caller at 3AM: The Syrians have just invaded Israel

    McCain: Bomb Iraq! 100 years!

    I respect McCain as a hero, but he is WAY out of step on security issues. We need a leader without tunnel vision.

    Hillary 08

    March 3, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  9. Constantine Ft. Myers, FL

    That's when all the backroom deals are done.

    March 3, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  10. hillary 08:

    Hillary is the one I want answering the phones!

    I'm voting for her!

    Pennsylvania for Hillary!
    bringing it all home for her!

    March 3, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. Darrington

    I'm waiting for someone to tell the Dems that we were right in 2000. We fought so hard to keep George Bush out of office. All those people who were laughing at us counting chads in Florida, aren't laughing now. And when gas goes up to $4., and it will, you still won't be laughing.

    So I find it so hard that anyone could vote for a George Bush Mini-Me. But America does some strange things–I guess we like suffering.

    Vote for McCain if you want more casualties, and $6. gas prices.

    March 3, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. What At Risk

    What is really at risk is a failing economy and the total erossion of the America financial system. McCain and Hillary don't have a clue except for lies and misinformation of the truth. McCain have not been honest with the american people too many lobbyist deal and too many IOU's on the US tax payers to pay the bill.

    We have to cut spending and reduce our dependency on foriegn oil. Lowering the cost of living for the average American and increase exports. Greed will cause the US economy to fail. If McCain and Hillary not prepared to fix this problem we all need to learn spanish because will well all be like Mexican working for food and homeless.

    This is what Bush did for me..

    March 3, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  13. Bob

    Why does Hillary have to answer the phone at 3:00 AM? It's because it's Bill on the other end of the line asking her to please open the door! Joking aside, I do not think Hillary is qualified to be the commander-in-chief. Just look at how she responded to Obama: "Shame on you, Barack Obama!". I don't think this line will work with the enemies of this country.

    March 3, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  14. CHERYL






    WE ARE WITH YOU HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  15. Bradley Hankins

    All you crazy liberals flooding the comment section banging on McCain about how old he is, dumping Clinton because she isn't "fresh", but yet you support someone who has the least experience, who states what he does after something fails (just think, if Iraq was viewed as the best thing in the world... you would be banging on Obama for not voting on it). Obama is a fake, Clinton is about the same.

    McCain has the experience and the know-how to lead. Just because he is old, doesn't mean he is slow. He wants a fair fight, and he will win if so.

    March 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. Joe

    You see, it took only 5 minutes for Senator McCain to adopt Hillary's negative ad. Face it, you're hurting the Democratic party Hillary and it's time to get out.

    March 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  17. Fabian Blache III

    It would appear that Senator Clinton is so hell bent on winning the battle and not the war that she has now had the audacity to rank herself and John McCain above her democratic rival Senator Obama in terms of who is best suited to handle a crisis as CINC.

    She is either confused or seeking a VP nod from McCain when she loses the Democratic nomination. Never in my life have I seen anything this grotesquely incompetent from a candidate while running against their own party member.

    Obama should feel very comfortable now. As Ghandi once said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win."

    This poor woman has totally lost sight of the prize here. She apparently is so sure she is going to lose, and she will, that she has gone to work for the other side.

    March 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. Corey, Maryland

    Just wondering what the fascination with this subject is. Any president, good or bad, can wake up at 3 a.m. Not that big of a deal.

    Oh and why do people from other countries like Canada find it necessary to post on these blogs. You aren't Americans, you have no say in how we run our government, so stay out!!!

    Obama Richardson 08!!!

    March 3, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  19. Linda, Phoenix, Arizona

    Yes, he's been involved in all of the National Security measures for the past thirty years and look where we are now! Look what his dedication to war has gotten us...our plce in the world degraded by illegal wiretapping, torture, ( even he flip flops on that! ) outring CIA agents for olitical gains and lies.

    God Bless America! Please let people understand how dangerous John McCain is ! His first response to everything is to bomb it!

    Can we please give peace a chance again in America?

    March 3, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. Dirk Wigdoubt

    Maybe the phone call involves an invasion of McCain's home town in Panama. Drug lords in Columbia organise an invasion of Panama to reinstall Noriega... McCain orders troops in to protect his birth place. Pres. McCain regrets any collateral damage to fellow imigrants who are sent with the CIA to play incessant rock music in an effort to drive South Americans back to their own homes...

    March 3, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  21. james

    McCain would make a good general post Petraeus since that's where all his policies come from. He is completely out of touch on every non military issues. He can't even fake being interested in the economy or social affairs. He is not experienced in dealing with international crisis; an experienced person would not make remarks like "bomb bomb bomb Iran" or hope Castro dies quickly. He's already making unproductive remarks against Russia and Venezuela. He has shown poor judgement any numerous occasions.

    March 3, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  22. Hal

    John McCain tries very hard to be a good man and do what he thinks is right but he continues to try to walk the fence between the policies of GWB and the intellectual conservative.

    There was a time that I would not have doubted he was the best man to handle a "military" crisis. However since he recent ravings about "bomb, bomb, bombing Iran" and his adoption of the Neocon foreign policy, I am genuinely concerned that he is out of touch with reality. Anyone who can joke about starting another war while our men and women are dying in Iraq has a few screws loose.

    March 3, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  23. Bob

    Hey folks, just remember when it's 3:00 AM in Washington, it's 11:00 AM in Paris, 12:00 PM in Tel Aviv, 1:00 PM in Moscow, 1:30 PM in Tehran, 3:00 PM in Islamabad, 3:30 in New Delhi, and 6:00 PM in Beijing. You got the drift. So for the folks who wonder what a president does a 3:00 AM, you just have to think globally a bit.

    March 3, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  24. Lisa, VA

    CNN aka "Clinton News Network." Do you realize how biased your news reporting have become?

    March 3, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  25. Marshall

    Lonnie- Toledo, Ohio March 3rd, 2008 7:41 pm ET:

    "And it's so easy to say let's continue with the war when you don't have sons, daughters, and relatives over there fighting and dying for a lost cause."

    This is completely false. Mccain has a son serving in Iraq.

    March 3, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6