McCain: Obama should own 'abject failure' in Middle East
October 22nd, 2012
04:50 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain: Obama should own 'abject failure' in Middle East

Boca Raton, Florida (CNN) – Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a top surrogate for Mitt Romney, unleashed some strong words against President Barack Obama on Monday, hours before the presidential candidates face off in their final debate.

Asked if Romney should give Obama credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, McCain said he believes all American credit the president with the raid but added Obama should also take responsibility for "the abject failure throughout the Middle East."

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"Al Qaeda is resurgent throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, all of North Africa, Libya, Mali. They're returning because we're weak," McCain said in the spin room at Lynn University, the site of Monday's debate in Boca Raton, Florida.

McCain's comments signaled Romney could take a similar line of attack during the presidential showdown and portray the unrest in the Middle East as a major failure for the president.

The 2008 Republican nominee said "everything is unraveling" in Iraq because of the president's policies, which included the final withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from the country late last year.

Obama's campaign, however, uses the troop drawdown as a selling point for the president on foreign policy. In a television ad released Monday, the campaign highlighted the decision, saying "it's time to stop fighting over there and start rebuilding here."

McCain, who's long been a vocal critic of the administration's handling of Syria, further blasted Obama for doing "absolutely nothing" to help protect citizens from the ongoing slaughter in the country.

"Just as many of us have predicted, it's beginning to spill over in to Lebanon, into Jordan, into the other countries in the region, and we are on the verge of a serious crisis," he said.

While Obama has spoken little about Syria, in August he warned the country against moving chemical or biological weapons, saying such force would cross a "red line" and "there would be enormous consequences" for Bashar al-Assad's regime.

McCain also questioned the president on Libya, saying the administration has failed to explain why it was not prepared for last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans.

"It's either absolute and total incompetence, or willfully deceiving the American people," McCain said. "How he thinks he can fool the American people on this one, I don't know."

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Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Foreign Policy • John McCain • Libya • Presidential Debates • Syria
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    I respect John McCain , it is just time for him to retire .

    He was never the same man after GW Bush wiped his face in a pile of too too back in 2000.

    When GW Bush and Karl Rove questioned John's military service back in the 2000 primary . McCain should have grabbed the Punk Bush by the tie and let him know about respect !

    I would have voted for him . But he couldn't stand up to GW .

    October 22, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. Getoverit


    Sorry, Senator, just because Mr. Obama hasn’t started two wars in his first term, I’d hardly call it a failure- perhaps I’d call it “success”.
    Because measuring a president's success on what he hasn't done is the way to go.....

    October 22, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. modmike

    Just because Obama does not want to start another war in the Middle East, then he has failed; Whatever!...Please Sen. McCain we can't keep sticking our nose where it does not belong. We can not answer to everyone's beckon and call! That is why we are in a big mess!

    October 22, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. tr smith

    John McCain, graduated at bottom of his Navy class........and that was the high point of his career. He needs to do one more thing for America, and the sooner the better..........RETIRE!

    October 22, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  5. kev

    this coming from the guy who opposed MLK day? what kind of genius would oppose a paid day off... no sale. McCain's best political days are behind them.

    October 22, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  6. Bonnie Fletcher

    I respect the service Senator McCain gave to our nation and the years he spent as a POW, but it seems like his opinions don't really hold water any more. We, as a nation, do not want another war to waste the lives of our young people in death and disability. I truly wonder where we would be today if Bush had not been allowed to go into Irag the second time. Trillions of dollars ahead, millions of dollars out of Cheney's pocket and thousands of lives saved at least. The president is doing just fine, thank you, Senator, retire already.

    October 22, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  7. Raphael

    Being the President of the USA does not mean to be a bully in the affairs of every country on earth. NO!
    We lead by example and not bullying countries....


    October 22, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
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