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. WHO?

    Does anyone care what John McLoser thinks?

    January 9, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. Robin

    McCain is a good man and very gracious. He will speak warmly of Obama because he too wants what is best for our country. He has served his country well.

    January 9, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. jr

    I sure hope that McCain is advising Obama on foreign policy – he'll need all the help he can get.

    January 9, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. fred

    To a woman in California for Obama: Stop drinking the haterade. Seriously, you are the most partisan blogger I've ever seen on here.

    January 9, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  5. Steve

    If only the majority of Americans who voted for McCain could be as gracious as he is towards our new president.

    January 9, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. Lori

    I don't care what John McCain says anymore. This is the man who introduced Sarah Palin to America- and worst yet, wanted us to entrust our lives and our childrens lives in her hands. That seriously calls into question his judgment. Sorry John... I lost respect for you.

    January 9, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  7. My Friends, let me tell you

    Panetta will find out what really went down on 9/11,he scares alot of criminals.

    January 9, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. Who?

    Does anyone care what McLoser says?????????

    January 9, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  9. Um...

    "A Woman in California For Obama" January 9th 2009 5:46 pm ET
    So the old bigot devil has spoken... who cares?

    Since when is a man who refused to bring up Rev. Wright, a huge political advantage for him, during the campaign because he thought it was too racially insensitive a "bigot devil"?

    I think John McCain could spend 20 years serving his country in uniform, including being tortured in a Vietnamese prison camp, and then become a leading bipartisan voice in the Senate, and then run an honest, fair Presidential campaign, and the robots who voted for Obama would still think he's a horrible person.

    Oh wait...

    January 9, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  10. legal in nc

    Exactly why the conservatives didn't vote for him in 2008, he's a demotwit in sheeps clothing.

    All air and nothing to offer!

    January 9, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  11. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    So McCain is back to being a statesman.......thats good to see. He can do more good from his senate seat than he could have as POTUS. The next step up would have been a "bridge too far" for McCain I expect, but he is still helpful at his current level.

    January 9, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Proud American

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

    January 9, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  13. PA

    Frankly I don't know why McCain's opinion would be sought? Unless there was some Pork Barrel spending he wouldn't know enough about the issues to comment. Wasn't he Obama's rival who had differing views on every topic during the Presidential Campaign? And has everyone forgotten, he chose Palin for his VP? His view is important because?

    January 9, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. Texas Teacher

    McCain has no relivance in respect to the Obama Administration. He should consider himself lucky that Obama even considers his advice. Bush/Cheney did not give a flip what any democrats thought or said! And with a Republican Congress he did not have to! The shoe is on the other foot now!

    Whomever Obama chooses, it has to be better than Bush's choices! So far, Obama has not considered a housekeeper, his or anyone elses. No one he is considering or appointing was the head of a horse show or beauty queen candidate, nor a moose hunter! I tell you he can't hold a candle to Bush and Cheney for mismanagement and just plain ignorance!

    Obama is choosing intelligent well qualified people for all the positions. I can hardly wait for Jan. 20th! 🙂

    January 9, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. Mcshame

    I don't know how that guy can stand to look at himself in the mirror after the campaign he ran. The disgusting accusations and insinuations that Obama was "pals" with terrorists, what a pathetic disgrace, I don't care if he served that honorable man is long gone, this dishonest miserable shadow of a man disgusts me.

    January 9, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. ginger mae johnston

    you know Mccain is not half bad....problem is he screwed up royally and lost the election when he chose that azz clown and walking train wreck sarah palin as a running mate. holy crap she is a bimbo and dumb as dirtt.


    January 9, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  17. John

    I'm impressed by McCain's post-election graciousness; it makes it clear that he was pushed into the negativity of the campaign, and that that wasn't the real John McCain. Now, do you suppose we'll EVER hear McCain's running mate say anything complimentary about Obama–or about anyone other than herself?

    January 9, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  18. Galen Another College Supporter For Obama

    Good, its okay for both parties to have disagreements with each other, I'd be scared if, both parties always agreed on everything. But I'm pleased to see, that some of the partinship is being put aside, so we can get stuff done. As a die hard Obama supporter, I want to give props to Senator McCain, for his statement, on Obama's C.I.A nominee,

    January 9, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. Good luck GOP

    The reasonable McCain has returned. He is not longer trying to win the support from the right wing nut jobs, how refreshing!

    January 9, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  20. Flo

    McCain is trying to be honest, and for that I give him high marks.

    January 9, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  21. Dexter in Houston TX

    To: Woman in California:
    Was that comment absolutely necessary. President Elect Obama could do without your type of divisiveness.
    I voted for Barack Obama, but I have much respect for John McCain I feel he is a good man.
    These are serious times and if you only have hate to offer then you are part of the problem and not the solution.

    God Bless You
    DX in TX

    January 9, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  22. boered1

    @ Ian Atlanta

    I hate to be the one to inform you but the CEO of your local hospital is not very likely to be a medical professional, they are more likely to have a MBA than a MD after their name, the same can be said for your schools and MOST major organizations. The belief that people start at the bottom and work their way to the top i not really accurate the facts are that most bus drivers will never become the owner of sa bus company the skill set required are very different. I work with engineers every day, very good ones at that, and I can tell you this, with a few RARE exceptions I would not want ANY of them running the business. They are smart people but lack the skill sets required to run a business. Based on what you said it would appear that the only good officers in the military are those who were once enlisted and that, from 21 years military experiance, is FAR from the truth. Leadership is not so much being able to do what your subordinates do or even knowing how to do what your subordinates do, it is about knowing your people, their skill sets, increasing their skill sets and getting the right people to WANT to do the job right. As we attempted to explain during the presidential race it is not detailed specific experiance that makes an effective and good leader it is understanding what needs to be done and letting those who are best suited/qualified to do that job do it. Panetta has shown he is a good leader and he has the background to know what the President needs to know NOW and what he needs to know in a standard breifing. In other words Sen. McCain is correct he will make an effective head of the CIA.

    January 9, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  23. james

    People has a short memory. Mccain turned the election to be very bitter of his supporters towards Obama.....Will never forgive him to with the hate and his running mate fueled!

    January 9, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. Franky

    Senator McCain doesn't have to say anything in regard of the team, either good or bad. Of course lots of people have expressed feelings already towards the tradition since the beginning, Senator MCCain doesn't have to protect my boy and his team. They are grown ups and men...(and women, sorry laides, LOL!) they are responsible for their actions and let me do it so far...

    But I do respect his props, Good looking out Senator...wait a minute, he wants something, huh? Na'h, I'm playing, LOL!

    January 9, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  25. Good luck GOP

    Hey Mike H. As someone who grew up in MN and lived one block, yes one block, from the bridge that collapsed; (which looked horrible for YEARS I might add ) I thank the lord that Pawlenty and his lack of vision and judgment are no where near the white house.

    January 9, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
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