October 17th, 2012
11:22 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain weighs in on war of words over Libya

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Wednesday said Mitt Romney missed an opportunity to go after the president over Libya in the second presidential debate.

Asked whether Romney failed to press President Barack Obama on the administration's handling of last month's consulate attack, the Arizona senator said "in a way, he did" on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

During the debate, Obama said he referred to the Libya attack as an "act of terror" the day after the violence last month. Romney disputed the claim, sparking a fiery exchange over whether the president used the term.

On Wednesday, some political observers noted Romney spent too much time over the semantics, rather than moving on and asking more questions about the security of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the U.S. facility on September 11, 2012.

As it turns out, the president did use the words "acts of terror" in the Rose Garden speech, but opponents point to the fact that some in the administration waffled on calling it a terrorist attack in the following days. Certain officials, instead, cited protests over an anti-Islam film as the trigger of the violence.

McCain, however, sided with those who say the president was not forceful enough in his choice of words after the attack.

"When you look at the president's Rose Garden statement, it really wasn't talking about that act," said the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

Obama, in fact, used the phrase toward the end of the speech, saying, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." Critics, however, point to the fact that he mentioned the September 11, 2001, attacks before the phrase in his speech and could have been referring to that disaster, as well.

McCain said Wednesday the president should have fully acknowledged the violence as terrorism from day one.

"We knew within hours that this was a coordinated attack with heavy weapons," McCain said. "It was obvious."

McCain wasn't the only Republican defending Romney on Wednesday. Rep. Peter King of New York also had biting words for the president's response to the Libya attack. On CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee described the situation as "shameful."

"I'm going to use my words very carefully,” King said. “I think the president's conduct and behavior on this issue has been shameful.”

The congressman argued Obama was four minutes into his Rose Garden speech on September 12 before he mentioned an act of terror. King also noted the 9/11 mention in the speech.

"Is he talking about Benghazi or is he talking about September 11th or all acts of terror?" he said. "The most you could say for him is it's ambiguous."

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Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Libya • TV-Anderson Cooper 360
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    oh yes, mccain. The old man who gave us the mutant from AK and picked her over the twit for the vice presidency of our great nation.
    You spent the Vietnam war in jail because you disobeyed orders to return to ship. Why don't you just STFU and go live in one of those seven or eight houses you have with your rich wife. Gigoo anyone?

    October 18, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  2. jane

    McCain never met a war, he didn't think America shouldn't be involved in

    October 18, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  3. Thinking Texan

    Since I am at it, I wont miss an opportunity to go after McCain.

    Go crazier with the john birch supporters, it is the new republican party, a koch libertarian takeover.

    Now Billy Graham has de-listed your Bishop's religious corporation as not longer a cult.
    Congratulations on your new living apostle in SLC. And people get paranoid about the control of a catholic pope in Italy.
    This will be interesting when Scientology shows up with the money to be cult delisted and a GOP source of leadership.

    So John, stick it, hang it up, your senile and not right wingnut enough to be relevent, you are a dinosaur.

    October 18, 2012 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  4. n

    McCain said Wednesday the president should have fully acknowledged the violence as terrorism from day one.

    Yeah, tell em McCain, If you were president and I'm glad that you are not, there would have been boots on the ground the day after and by now with the whole republican leadership behind you, there would be the declaring of an all out war on the unseen enemy who looks exactly like the innocent.

    October 18, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  5. Ruth

    So if we have a nuclear attack here in the USA, this administration could take up to two weeks to decide if it is a terrorist attack?!!! Crazy!!! Our intelligence should know right away what is going on!!!

    October 18, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  6. Bev

    obama will say anything to cover his you know what time for a real change for someone who really is for our country & it's safety. Romney 2012

    October 18, 2012 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  7. Dan

    He missed, but it is hard when you have to go in real time against the supposedly objective moderator (CNN, do not censor!).

    October 18, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  8. Good guy

    Romney will have another chance to challenge Obama on Lybia this Monday without Candi Crowley getting in the way.

    October 18, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
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