January 9th, 2009
05:01 PM ET
11 years ago

McCain defends Obama's CIA pick

McCain spoke warmly of Obama on Friday.

McCain spoke warmly of Obama on Friday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - John McCain said Friday that his former rival Barack Obama has put together an "excellent" national security team, and defended the selection of Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I'm not here trying to argue that this president is perfect and that there aren’t still disagreements, but I do think his national security team is an excellent one," McCain told Fox News.

He described his post-election conversations with Obama as "cordial" and said he has spoken with the president-elect about the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Asked about Obama's decision to name Panetta to run the CIA, McCain defended Panetta against early criticism that the former Clinton official lacked sufficient intelligence experience to lead the spy agency.

"Leon Panetta has great experience as chief of staff of White House," McCain said.

He called Panetta "highly qualified" and added: "In all due respect, I think it's not bad from time to time to have someone from outside the intelligence community, but with strong experience in the White House."

On the topic of Obama's economic stimulus package, McCain did not promise to support the plan, but said it deserves consideration.

"These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures," he explained. Despite the recovery package's hefty price tag, McCain said the tax relief measures included in the plan made him more inclined to examine it.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. Mari

    Thank you John McCain.

    January 9, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Fredi

    Looks like McCain is happy that he is not responsible for dealing with this mess ....

    January 9, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. john

    I think mccain and Palin should just go away!

    January 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. james in s.c.

    ya see!! McCain was never a right winger neo-con, he just voted with Bush's policy 90% of the time....whatever!!!!

    January 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Wisdom

    McCain is a wise man, and Obama is not. Think about it!

    January 9, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. 11 More Days

    Just like PE Obama and future SOS Hillary Clinton, the other two adversaries will find they can work together....three great Americans!!

    January 9, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Lee-- Dallas, TX

    Now this sounds more like: "Country First".

    January 9, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Matt

    It's true...he sent his support on his homeade Blackberry.

    January 9, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. dm houston

    I sure hope that McCain has been advising Obama on foreign policy – he needs the input of someone who actually knows what they're talking about. Ever wonder why the "transition team" has so many staffers?

    January 9, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. nick

    another one is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack....

    January 9, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Honey

    He called Panetta "highly qualified" and added: "In all due respect, I think it's not bad from time to time to have someone from outside the intelligence community, but with strong experience in the White House."

    I agree with Senator McCain's comments.

    January 9, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Sophia in Canada

    Well at least he is handling the loss better than Palin.

    January 9, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  13. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    What??!??!

    McCain defended Obama's pick on FIXED NEWS?

    I think that's great.

    January 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. Larry in Houston TX

    Sounds like "Panetta" could be a "Maverick"

    January 9, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Compare McCain's comments vs Palin's: McCain is commenting as an elder statesman and Palin sounds like a high school girl cut from the cheer leading squad.

    McCain's campaign was such a surprise and a disappointment. Glad to see McCain, with nothing to loose, can now be free to be who he is.

    January 9, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. FAYE, NV

    Glad to hear McCain acting like his old self. These are hard time and different measures has to be taken. The old way will no longer help.

    January 9, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Justin, ny

    I have the feeling that Obama's reaching out to McCain is going to make McCain a huge ally of Obama's

    January 9, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. Rick Sutter

    McCain was never anything more than a stooge to get Obama elected.

    January 9, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. Rishi

    I think we're starting to see again the real "maverick" McCain – back before he was the GOP nomination for president, before he had to satisfy the right wing of his party. I didn't vote for McCain, but I think it is an honorable thing for McCain to be actually putting his "country first" – above his party. The worst thing that happened to McCain was his party – the Republican party was the thing that made him the partisan he unfortunately became during the 08 election.

    January 9, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. Lesley

    I'm happy to see that McCain is back to his old self. He is certainly moving on more graciously than his VP pick, who is continuing to exploit herself on an almost daily basis. She is behaving very immaturely and showing that she is in no position to hold national office. It's like kindergarten with her.

    January 9, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. coming around back to himself?

    now that he got little to lose,

    he can speak the truth to power (of mosad's agents who have infiltrated in key intelligence positions of this country).

    January 9, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. kayla

    THANK YOU MR. MCCAIN FOR BEING KIND AND HONEST, UNLIKE THE OTHER REPUGS.

    January 9, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. GARY

    Mc Cain is the man. He knows uif Obama picked a great security team.He probably helped Obama's decision.

    January 9, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. Katie, OH

    Good man, McCain. I have no problems with him now that the election is over.

    January 9, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. AnaB

    Go John! See I never disliked him, it was "That One" he chose as his running mate that turned my stomach.

    January 9, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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