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. Objective thinking

    McCain-bashing in 3... 2... 1...

    January 9, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Rachel

    Hey McCain! As if we are going to listen to what you have to say about picks after you and Carabou Barbie ruined the GOP and ran the worse campaign in history. You both just need to be quiet. You have lost your credibility as far as I'm concerned.

    January 9, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Rick

    What McCain should have said is:

    "The Panetta nomination is exactly the kind of decision that you get when you elect an amateur political hack that has never accomplished anything of substance in his life to the office of President of the United States".

    January 9, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Proud American

    Who asked him? He couldn't even pick a running mate. Idiot

    January 9, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. A Woman In California For Obama

    So the old bigot devil has spoken... who cares?

    January 9, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. California Gold

    For once I agree with John McCain.

    January 9, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. MikeH

    Y'know, if McCain had picked Pawlenty as VP, and had run a more honorable campaign, he would probably have won, barring making some other major foopah on a par with "The fundamentals of the economy are sound".

    January 9, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. Michael, Pensacola, FL

    An endorsement from MCcain . . . wow, great way to poison the water, lol!

    January 9, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. chris@stl

    Where was this man a couple of months ago ...

    January 9, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Dem with Love For McCain

    McCain spoke warmly of Obama on Friday.....Senator McCain is still a Maverick !!!

    January 9, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. Charlize

    Seriously, WHO CARES about what this person says about anything? He is a bib, big loser. He first lost the primaries to Bush, long ago, and now he lost to Obama, mostly because of his absurd and irrational VP pick. Paraphrasing what many, so many others think, if it was possible I would sue John McCain, because the creation of the Palin monster is all that Idiot's fault. I am now forced to read and hear what a moron like Palin has to say for the rest of my life. John McCain should be punished for bringing Palin onto the national scene. McCain, do you want to redeem yourself? Then please make the monster you created just go away, just as you brought it into existence. Please!

    January 9, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. MK

    Now, if he would just get Palin to shut her trap (or speak up and put her in her place) I would really begin to regain my respect for him.

    On second thought, he made that women believe she was more relevant than she ever will be just by picking her as his vp choice. Out with them both! They are stale news.

    January 9, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  13. jim phx

    McCain has been a model of graciousness throughout. God bless him.

    January 9, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. Ian - Atlanta

    I can't say that I really follow Senator McCain's logic on this. Yes, Mr. Panetta is a man who has achieved great political and managerial success in his career. However, that fact alone does not qualify someone for a position in the intelligence field. The CIA director is the chief manager of an intelligence organization, he should have intelligence experience.

    You wouldn't want to make someone a hospital CEO who has never stepped foot in a hospital. You wouldn't want to want to make someone a bus driver who has never driven a bus. You wouldn't want someone to become a commander of military ground forces who doesn't himself have military experience.

    So why then, at this crucial point in time especially, would we want someone with no intelligence experience leading our efforts to gather intelligence to keep our nation safe?

    January 9, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. Thomas

    I didn't vote for McCain ,
    However he is a very admirable man who has given much for his
    country and continues to do so.

    McCain's support is much needed being he is a no BS guy !
    And so is Mr. Panetta !

    All the best to you Senator McCain .

    January 9, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. Vdawg

    I love John McCain

    January 9, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. commentor

    Good job McCain, Good Job!!!

    January 9, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. S Callahan

    John may have had a tough campaign...but you have to admit...he has earned respect from America's republic since the concession....

    January 9, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  19. No Incumbents 2010

    McCain is a politician!

    January 9, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  20. Ellie

    Wow.... did the light bulb just now turn on? Ooops...it's still on "dim" mode.

    John McCain knows he better support his NEW BOSS or he'll be peeling potatoes in the Senate HELLS kitchen!!!

    January 9, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  21. Mya

    Palin didn't get the memo that the election is OVER. Looks like McCain did. Moving on.....

    January 9, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  22. Amber

    So where was this guy in October? You know, the John McCain I would have happily voted for in 2000?

    January 9, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. boered1

    If THIS McCain was the one to have run, the old 2000 McCain, and if he had selected someone with any REAL credentials/ability to be his VP we would be awaiting his inauguration. Unfortunately he decided to follow the republican slash and burn/lie and distort pattern and lost.

    idiots

    January 9, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  24. Justin

    Hey mike H. On comment #3. With regards to Mccain choosing Palenty instead of Palin for VP. Let me tell ya, I am from Minnesota and with the way Palenty governs here in MN, he would not have been better then Palin in my opinion. He has done nothing here in Minnesota to help this state! He's just another typical republican who's main slogan is always I will not raise taxes! That's all he ever says, but he never gets anything done here!

    January 9, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Don't forget McCain's campaign, he didn't have anything to offer then and he doesn't have anything to offer now or later, Bush is leaving office so he can't keep of his bomb theory.

    January 9, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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