September 7th, 2013
06:52 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain raises impeachment - if boots hit ground in Syria

WASHINGTON (CNN) - After endorsing President Barack Obama's plan to launch military strikes against Syria, Sen. John McCain warned the president would face impeachment if he were to put "boots on the ground."

McCain told Phoenix radio host Mike Broomhead on Thursday that the president had "bungled" the entire handling of the Syria crisis and would open himself up to impeachment hearings if he overstepped the limits of the authorization before Congress.

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"No one wants American boots on the ground," McCain told the KYFI audience. "Nor will there be American boots on the ground, because there would be an impeachment of the president if they did that."

While McCain said he still supports the current plan to intervene in Syria, the Arizona Republican's statement seems to reflect his contentious Thursday town hall meeting with some Phoenix constituents. At the meeting, McCain, who has favored a more robust American response to the Syria crisis, faced intense criticism.

"We didn't send you to make war for us. We sent you to stop the war," one man said.

Despite his warning to the president, McCain spoke out in favor of the Syria authorization again Saturday, endorsing former Army Gen. David Petraeus' endorsement of the administration's plan in a tweet.

Only one of three Republicans in the Senate Foreign Relations panel to approve the measure, McCain has vocally advocated for a stepped-up American response to alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. He even refused to pass the White House resolution out of committee until it included provisions to bolster Syrian opposition forces deemed moderate.

McCain's support for action hasn't stopped the Arizonan from blasting his former 2008 presidential rival for inaction.

In an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Tuesday, McCain told Wolf Blitzer the president needed to "explain to the American people" why urgent action in Syria is necessary. The Republican senator also said President Obama made a mistake by consulting Congress instead of immediately launching a bombing campaign against the Syrian government.

"It's common sense you don't warn them and give them plenty of time to disperse," McCain said.

Filed under: John McCain • President Obama • Syria • Uncategorized
soundoff (1,005 Responses)
  1. BD

    Man, I used to really like McCain. What a waste of space he has become in Washington. He went from being a maverick with a purpose to now being a guy that just wants to hear himself talk. What a colossal disappointment.

    September 8, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. carol green

    It is true that we do have to act quickly, but in this case, "quickly" will not be soon enough. We have given Syria enough time to move their weapons....chemical and other wise, to a safer place. Where might that be one ask? Right in the midst of schools, in local areas. So, if a missile were to be launched, it would kill hundreds of innocent people in getting rid of them. The Syrians are not just going to keep their stash where it is....they are going to move it where it will be even safer.....right smack in the middle in places where people will be killed. I agree that "no boots should touch the ground". He is putting our children and grandchildren in harms way for nothing. Do it in the air or on sea where everyone will be relatively safe. I'm being selfish here as I don't want to see my grandson, who is over in Afghanistan, be moved to Syria with ground troops and be killed. And, that is exactly what's going to happen if we allow soldiers there. It will be as though we started a war....not being sent there to stop a different kind of war that has arisen in Syria.

    September 8, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  3. dzerres

    This is a typical Republican red herring: Obama has said that there won't be "boots on the ground" and yet the GOP threatens impeachment if there are boots on the ground. And this from the guy who sang, "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" during the 2008 campaign. Remember (McCain doesn't, apparently).

    September 8, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Michael Bryce Winnick

    You can trust him. He introduced us to Sarah Palin.

    September 8, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. texasnotea

    The republicans have become so desperately delusional. Everything is about Obama instead of what is good for America.

    September 8, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. Doug J

    McCain will do anything to keep the spotlight. It's long past time for this guy to retire. Obama went to congress for approval – this is exactly the opposite of what McCain would have done.

    September 8, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Hannah

    I wouldn't be at all upset if Obama was impeached. Make my day!

    September 8, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. lloyd roberts

    Obozco, it is really frightening what you wrote, "too much freedom is bad". You need to leave this country now and go back to either a Sharia based country or the former Soviet Union. With words like that, you are not an American

    September 8, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  9. Jack

    I'd like to understand why you try to impeach President Obama, when you won't try to impeach President Bush over Iraq, Clinton over Bosnia and Reagan over Iran-Contra. It make no sense.

    September 8, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. AceGirlshusband

    Mr. McCain: "If you invade, your chances of re-election will be non-existent!"

    The President: "...???. I'll keep that in mind, John."

    September 8, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Wayne in Houston

    We are opposed to this war because it is beginning like so many other wars we have witnessed. We must go in, we must stop aggression, we must spread democracy, we must do this and do that. The reason Obama is not getting the support is because after the Iraq debacle – remember the "shock and awe" that was to bring them to heel? – we can't support this effort, and we wouldn't support it under a republican now either. We just don't want anymore of these "limited" engagements that we know will turn into another long, drawn-out affair. I remember, as a kid growing up in the 50s, the joke was any two Arabs made a border war.

    September 8, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  12. Ed Snowedus

    McCain is simply being INELEGANT is all – he is not threatening impeachment, he is just stating the likelihood since after all Congress is Republican controlled.

    When he said the President needs to explain the need for action he is stating the fact of the miserable job done pubicizing the suffering of the Syrian population by the Obama Admin. is all.

    The President McCain would have also presented along with damning evidence the photos of the smoking ruins that used to be the Army bases that launched those terrible weapons of mass murder.

    September 8, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Nana

    we have term limits for the president – why not for Congress and the Supreme Court. Remember how Justice Roberts helped the GOP when he tossed out a part of the voting bill. The idea that the representatives we have voted in to work for us is wrong – once in office they work for the highest bidder.

    September 8, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Pat in IL

    Last I heard from this out-of-it-confused-has-been, he was all for it. Now, suddenly, he is against it. Why would anyone even listen to McCain, no matter what he says?!?!

    September 8, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. lawless4u

    So this clueless old coot thinks he is in charge huh?

    September 8, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Ed Snowedus

    How'd that happen: 'publicizing' not 'pubicizing'.

    September 8, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Tim

    Sounds like McCain is in more hot water than the President could be.

    September 8, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. rodriguez jr

    Hey let it be and lets see what happends if the world do nothing to stop this war. One russia does not cares what this rigime does it only cares about thier last major naval base in syria billions of money invested by them . China whats a piece of the base yup belive me. Russia knows very well what the syrians goverment know s what they are doing.

    September 8, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Bill Davis

    Obama uses the bathroom the GOP calls for his impeachment. Bush lied had 4500 Americans killed and they are silent.

    September 8, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  20. Billy in Virginia

    This is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for our President. What Syria needs is REGIME CHANGE. This
    country has been at war for decades, as have most of the countries in that region. I WISH they would just wipe each other out, and be done with it. While Mr. McCain is a great American, AND a former POW who was tortured, he DOES have legitimacy to speak. Its just that he is WRONG. IMPEACHMENT? THAT is NUTS, and its just a way for Mr. McCain to get himself on CNN and on the Sunday talk shows. Impeachment rhetoric is silly, childish, and ridiculously politically motivated. SHAME ON YOU JOHN MCCAIN....YOU are a BETTER GUY than THIS!

    September 8, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. Tomi Roshi

    For a guy who is a combat veteran and former tortured prisoner of war one would think McCain would evolve into a pacifist. Instead he has turned into a blood thirsty hawk, who thinks waterboarding isn't torture, Gitmo isn't a prison camp and dropping bombs on Libya and Syria is the answer.

    September 8, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. NKBL

    McCain needs to retire, his mind is not working properly.

    September 8, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. Old Soldier

    Just what type "support" does Congress (and you making uneducated comments) want to provide? Money? Done that. Communications equipment? Done that. Weapons and ammo? Likely done that. Do you propose only overflights with our pilots delivering ordnance to specific targets? We can do that. Long range attacks on targets with UAVs? We can do that. But to provide any real support, we have to have boots on ground. To sign over complicated weapons to untrained insurgents, you must have trained troops on the ground to train them on firing as well as maintenance. To maintain our high tech equipment, there must be an effective maintenance and supply chain; to allow them to scootvand shoot with our weapons platforms means we have to provide ammunition which is bulky, heavy, and dangerous to store. Fighting a "war" today isn't an easy task. It requires massive Combat Suppprt and Combat Services Support to keep weapons platforms, commo gear, SIGINT tools, etc. The "tooth to tail" conundrum grates on people, but it is still there. I don't usually quote Tom Clancy, but the is one quote (by a Russian General he lifted from others): "Amateurs argue tactics; professionals study logistics". If we try providing all that support from outside Syrian birders, our supply chain will become too huge and ineffective to work. The only place close enough to issue, train, and supply CSS is in-country! That means boots on ground, or we issue tennis shoes to oir troops rather than boots. Tchuss!

    September 8, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. George

    The only thing to be gained by striking Syria is President Obama saving face, nothing else. If he can sleep at night knowing that is the only reason he bombs and kills, then so be it.

    September 8, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  25. Garth

    McCain is under the false notion that he was elected to do what he thinks is best...

    September 8, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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