June 23rd, 2008
03:45 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain criticizes adviser's terrorism comments

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/23/art.mccainadv.ap.jpg caption="McCain adviser Charlie Black."]FRESNO, California (CNN) - Sen. John McCain distanced himself Monday from comments made by a senior campaign adviser suggesting that McCain would stand to benefit politically from a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, McCain senior adviser Charlie Black said that the Arizona senator demonstrated his fluency in foreign policy and security matters following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December of last year.

Bhutto’s killing, Black said, was an “unfortunate event.” But, he argued, McCain’s “knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us."

Asked if McCain would stand to benefit from a terrorist attack on the United States, Black answered: “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him.”

Campaigning in California, McCain shook his head when asked by CNN about Black’s comments.

“I cannot imagine why he would say it,” he said at a press conference. “It’s not true. I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear.”

McCain cited his work on the Senate Armed Services Committee and his role in creating the 9/11 Commission in describing his efforts to stop terrorist attacks on American soil.

“If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree,” McCain said of Black.

On the day Bhutto was assassinated, McCain seemed to suggest the calamity could offer him some political benefit.

“I’m the one with the experience, the knowledge and the judgment," he told CNN's Dana Bash on December 27. "So perhaps it may serve to enhance those credentials.”

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Me

    "Asked if McCain would stand to benefit from a terrorist attack on U.S. soil" The key word is he was "asked" by the reporter if it would benifit him. He wasn't calling for an attack. The fact that you can read so much into so little is humorus. And yes if attacked it would be an advantage because he has the experiance to deal with it. I'm a true Bush hater but we need experiance with McCain to deal with and change the US and not some fairy tale of change with an idealogogy that just won't work..

    June 23, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. obama=underhanded liar

    I'm still voting for McCain. NOTHING is as BAD as obama.

    June 23, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  3. RYAN

    Republicans and politics of fear. It is not going to work this time around.

    June 23, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. Abe Schenck

    So, he's castigated for being honest? Republicans are the party of terror, is this news to anyone?

    June 23, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. California Girl

    This is what they do (Republicans)! This is why John Kerry lost, the Republicans will lie just to get back to the White House and put fear in the American people. Democrats will unite and beat those war mongering evil doers. Charlie Black should be fired. 4,000 plus of our innocent young men/women have been killed by these lies that the Republicans have brought forth. No more lies, no more Republicans! It's time for our country to be led by a democratic administration for the people; not just the rich and well-connected.

    June 23, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. Eric

    The reporter asked the question. The answer was merely pragmatic.

    Had It been a democrat asked if Barack would do better if an attack occured the answer likely would be no. Why? because he has no understanding of terror and no understanding of poor policy dealings with our lurking enemies. Barack buys his favors. He learned from Rezko how to do that.

    June 23, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. not a bitter hillary supporter. just a staunch one.

    wow. The raving idiots really are out today.

    June 23, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  8. tinh nguyen,ca .usa

    he know who plan the 9/11 atack,he just slip his tonge and let the whole world know how american politician would do to be in power.now,we all know who's really is behind the 9/11

    June 23, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. Chris, American in London

    Charlie Black career ender! Pack yer bagz & go home, you just lost your job for telling the truth. Or at least what you thought was the truth. How could someone so well paid be so.... THE EMPORER HAS NO CLOTHES ON. Bye Bye Republo-bots, we won't miss you, you left us w/a lot of work to do so get out of the way now.

    June 23, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  10. The New Karl Rove is Born

    We've had 5 years of this crap. Terror Alerts hyped when a political agenda needed to be accomplished. Is Charlie Black, the new Karl Rove and Friends that like to use the American real fear of being attacked against us to win this election.


    John McCain should fire this man along with Phil Graham if he wants to show he can break from Bush tactics.

    Obama 2008 is now my man.

    June 23, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. Linda31

    Are you sure you don't know why he said that? Maybe because that's something you guys discuss in our senior advisor meetings. Please, we all know that you think something like that would benefit you. I'm sure this too will go away, because all things negative against McCain doesn't stick.

    June 23, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. say no to mccain

    americans watch out,i do not trust mcbush and company, these guys are up to something.

    June 23, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Nita

    Fire him now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 23, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. Canadian for Obama, Toronto

    I just don't understand how mcsame could benefit from terrorist attack? can someone explain this please!

    June 23, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  15. Glenn

    So typical of McCain and the people he surrounds himself with. Black is a disgrace and now McCain has disgraced himslef by not firing Black as a senior advisor. The longer the Presidential election goes on, McCain will more clearly show himslef for what he is....a warmonger, a flip flopper, a man who cheated on his first wife, a Senator who used his power and influence to keep Cindy out of jail for stealing drugs, and an old man who has lost his bearing. McCain is totally ignorant in matters of the economy. His Viet Nam POW hero status and military experience do not equate at all with the abilty and intelligence to be Commander in Chief. We have a history of Presidents who were failures who had military experience. With McCain, you continue four more years of Bush's eight years of failures both at home and at war.

    June 23, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  16. Julie

    Mr. Black – I doubt you're truly sorry. I think you're sorry your words weren't taken as they would have been in 2000 – or 2004.

    Fear mongering – just one of the many reasons I won't vote gop.

    June 23, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  17. seanm

    Wow, the McCain campaign has really lost its marbles lately. He just can't seem to do anything right anymore. This quote is absolutely disgusting. Black should be immediately fired!

    June 23, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Brian

    awww John don't be to harsh he is just speaking the truth...... you would benefit from Americans dying just like Bush did........ That is why you want to keep our boys and girls in Iraq right? So they can die for your advantage!

    If only you can convince people stying in Iraq is for the good of everyone.

    June 23, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  19. Sally from Cali

    Why not frighten Americans into keeping the Republicans in power.

    Domestic terrorism has been used to oppress Americans for centuries: immigrants, women, Blacks. Why not use it to control other voting groups: Whites, men, West Virginians, Ohioans, Floridians, etc.

    Why not?

    June 23, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  20. James, Redlands, CA

    It's amazing how few McCain supporters have logged on to make comments about this insight into the Republican mindset. Maybe it's because Black did in fact tell the truth. It relates so well to all of the terror alerts we had with Bush.

    People wake up. The Republicans want you to live in fear.

    The people trying to excuse Black's comment would have been calling for Obama's head for not firing the guy 2 seconds after the comment was made.

    This is insight into the people that McCain has surrounded himself with.

    Sad. But true.

    June 23, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. Dark Side

    Here we go again.........Fear – Let the good times roll. No wonder this election of 2008 won't be like the others were. SHAMELESS!

    June 23, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. Brian

    "how many terrorist attacks have the us suffered since bush went after them. how many sleepless nights have you lain awake wondering if the will attack again.like it or not if some unfortunate terrorist attack should occur i sure wouldn't want obama trying to talk them to death give me a man not someone who rides other people's coattails"

    How many American's died from terrorist attacks on the Democratic watch? How many more Americans died in Iraq compared to 9/11? Why hasn't Bin Laden been caught??? Bush has all the might and power of the greatest country on Earth and our allies and we can't catch one man????

    June 23, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  23. Jamie

    Leslie Sanchez is so one dimensional she is the worst annalist CNN has. If someone like Charlie Black says something as crazy as he did and then apologizes for it he should be commended, but if someone from the Democratic side said anything like that the world would be coming to a end. I like to pride my self for listening to every side, even though i am a die hard Democrat, most Republican annalists get there point across with out demonizing the other side. but Leslie Sanchez represents all that is evil with the republican party AND SHES ONLY A ANNALIST!! its people like Leslie Sanchez, Charlie Black, and McCain that help the people really see what the Republican party represents. BIG MONEY, BIG BUSINESS, LIES LIES LIES!

    June 23, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  24. John G

    It was a trick question.

    if he said no it would seem like he doubted McCains abilities in a crisis and if he said yes it gets spun into McCain wants another terrorist attack.

    The only correct answer is "No one benefits from terrorist attacks, however, if one were to occur it would simply be another means by which Senator McCain could prove his experience trumps Senator Obama's blind, naive optimism."

    June 23, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Vig

    Gee, maybe he was taking a tip from Bush's play book.

    June 23, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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