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November 14th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Sen. McCain responds to Pres. Obama

Editor's note: Anderson Cooper interviews Sen. John McCain about why he is calling for an investigation into the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Watch AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

At a White House news conference today, President Obama had a message for Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain: Don't go after Ambassador Susan Rice. The president was responding to their criticism of Rice's characterization of the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The senators also vowed to try to block her nomination as Secretary of State, if she is chosen by Obama.

"She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I've said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her," said Obama. "If Senator McCain, Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous."

Rice called the terrorist attack a "spontaneous" demonstration during her appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows five days after it happened. McCain has said on AC360° that the Obama administration is guilty of either being naive or willfully deceiving Americans for initially linking the assault to an anti-Muslim video on the Internet.

After Obama spoke, McCain addressed his colleagues and the president from the Senate Floor. "The President of the United States did not tell the American people the truth about the attacks that took four brave Americans' lives that went on for eight, seven hours, for which we were totally unprepared. Mr. President, four brave Americans died. It has now been eight weeks. The American people have received nothing but contradictory statements from all levels of our government," he said.

Some argue McCain shouldn't be condemning Ambassador Susan Rice since he supported Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State after she made false statements about weapons of mass destruction when making the case for invading Iraq when she was National Security Adviser. McCain and other Republicans defended her integrity and said anyone who opposed her was playing politics. Tonight Anderson Cooper asks the senator if there's a double standard.

"I think these are two entirely different cases, but if somebody wants to make that case, and tell the American people that it was okay to go out and tell them that this was a spontaneous demonstration sparked by a hateful video that [she's] qualified to be our Secretary of State, then they're entitled to that view...I will not agree to her appointment as Secretary of State," he said.

Watch the preview and see more of the interview about the drama that unfolded today in Washington, and how McCain plans to pursue an investigation. Tune in at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

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Filed under: John McCain • Libya • President Barack Obama
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Senator McCain could have attended the classified intelligence briefing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and have questions answered, but then he could not pretend ignorance and continue his vendetta. The 2008 election is over Senator. Time to get over it.

    November 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  2. jimranes

    There were equal warning regarding the 9/11 attacks which the Bush Administration ignored. Where was Senator McCain on this? No where to be found. Senator McCain served as a US Navy pilot in combat during the Vietnam war. He is to be commended for this. The problem was he should have never been allowed in the Naval aviation program. He had a bottom 25th quartile aptitude for pilot training and should have been assigned to a different specialty. As a naval aviator, McCain crashed three US naval jets before being shot down in Vietnam. I certainly honor his service and his time as a POW, but its time for him to hang it up.

    November 15, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  3. Pat

    People like Mccain and group are not constructive but destructive. An investigation is on going and when the time is ripe we will know what really happened. Its just like saying where was Bush when folks died on 9/11. Why can't they focus on nation building like how to over come the fiscal cliff, how to create jobs, etc Mc cain and his surrogates should call it a day and focus on constructive factors. I think they are still mourning the romney fall!

    November 15, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  4. Larry Brown

    I want to thank you Mr Copper for the information given this evening regarding Condoleezza Rice. Sen. Mc Cain was trying to discredit Susan Rice when she had nothing to do with what happened in Benghazi. He was supporting Condoleezza Rice even though she gave false information regarding weapons of mass destruction when making the case for invading Iraq. It seems to me that the repulicans are angry and reacting with hateful minds. Can't we just get on with the business of being United in American. Quit trying to find something to make our president look bad, even if it means defacing other people. Let us not be against one another. The people have voted. It's not about winning, it's about what is needed.

    November 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  5. rosalinda strickland

    thank you, anderson cooper, for drawing the parallel between c rice and s rice comments based on intelligence information and john mccain's double standard. please let him know, next time he demands an investigation into benghazi, that there already is an investigation. maybe he should revisit the pages of history on 9/11 and the iraqi war justifications and wait for the results of the ongoing invvestigation of benghazi before he throws out his "cover-up/incompetance" accusations. my guess is that he's furious with president obama's ingenious move to suggest signing an agreement immediately that will result in no tax raise for 98% of the population and 97% of businesses. mccain knows the republicans have been outsmarted–and outvoted–and he's trying to deflect their unwillingness to cooperate by trying to paint president obama as lacking integrity and/or intelligence.

    November 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  6. Robin

    John McCain wins the prize for the funniest comment of the post-election period thus far by claiming that Susan Rice is not qualified to be Secretary of State. This coming from the man who chose Sarah Palin to run for the office of Vice President of the United States is nothing short of hilarious.

    November 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  7. Royce

    Sen. John Mcain and the republicans continue to embarrass themselves. Anderson asked him, not once but twice, about the situation with Condoleeza Rice and the war in Iraq and he completely avoided answering the question as they always do. Always a double standard. Why don't they answer the questions they are asked directly? They just cannot accept that the country is simply not interested in their antiquated points of view, they lost election two terms in a row and are looking for any reason to try and bring Obama down. If they devoted as much energy to doing the right thing for the country we all might be able to move forward..

    November 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  8. Paul

    Mr. McCaine's response quite clearly speaks for itself. The comparison between Sec. of State C. Rice's inaccurate statements regarding WMD's in Iraq and U.N. Ambassador S, Rice's statements regarding Benghazi is entirely appropriate. Except that in the former situation, Condeleezza Rice was the the Secretary of State and the consequences of her using her position as Sec. of State to advocate invasion based on false information was not the death of 4 U.S. citizens, but the death of thousands of U.S. soldiers and thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, as well as a needless drain on our country's financial resources. This is the epitome of pure political hypocracy. Mr. McCaine ought to be thoroughly ashamed of himself and acknowledge his serious lapse in judgment. Mr. McCaine's statements in this interview underline just how "outrageous" (in our President's words) his and Sen. Graham;s attack of Ms. Susan Rice really is,

    November 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  9. steve

    McCain says the attack on Benghazi didnt need to happen because there was advance warning. There was advance warning before the attack on 9/11 that Bush ignored. Where was McCain with his criticism then?

    November 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Jane - WI

      What was the concrete warning before 9/11? What was the specific warning that something was going to happen in NYC? Compare that to the clear warnings coming out of Benghazi the couple of months before this attack.

      November 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Steve

      You're telling me that Bush knew they would fly into the Trade Center?
      You're telling me that Bush knew the date of the attack on the Trade Center?
      You're telling me that Bush was asked by the people in the Trade Center for protection and he denied it?
      You're telling me that you do not see any difference between Bengazi and the Trade Center attack?

      November 15, 2012 at 2:26 am |
  10. R Johns

    The senator is seriously off base... creating a whole lot of hub bub about this woman who had nothing to do with the events in the middle east that this senator is blowing steam about. Is this McCain's this is just a grand standing scheme that is non productive and of no value to anyone except himself and a failed political party.

    November 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  11. Bill Kruse

    Thank you, Mr. Cooper, for Mentioning the C. Rice comparison and reminding Sen. McCain of the thousands of US Soldiers that were killed as a result of the inaccurate information Ms. C. Rice (knowingly) used and based her support for and justification of our involvement with and in the Iraqi war campaign. I hope you are allowed to continue with this blunt referencing as you continue to discuss this important issue. Bringing up this relevant comparison places an interesting burden on divisive people such as Sen. McCain et al as they irreverently politicize our tragic failing in Benghazi, Libya.

    Thank you again for your vanguard(ed) efforts to maintain an integrous dialogue.

    -Bill

    November 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Jane - WI

      Condi Rice didn't have any clear contradictory evidence to what our intelligence was telling her when she made her remarks. Unlike Susan Rice, who did, and still made the false claims that the attack was all about the video. By the way, what has happened to that poor film maker who was frog marched for the cameras by our government?

      November 14, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Steve

      Are you saying C Rice, J Kerry, H Clinton, B Clinton knowingly knew the information they were using was inaccurate?
      At least they all agreed, at least at the beginning.

      November 15, 2012 at 2:47 am |
  12. steve

    Sen. McCain just announced that he and the Republicans intend to investigate Pres. Obama over the Benghazi attack. They want lots of telivised hearings. One short week after they lost the election the Republicans have decided to go after Pres. Obama any way they can. This is what they did after Pres. Clinton won reelection. They tied up 200 FBI agents investigating Clinton when they could have been investigating Al Quaeda. This is their modus operendi after losing. Sen. McCain has no credibility with most Americans any more. He has spent most of his time the last 4 years attacking Pres. Obama. This is what they do when they lose an election. Their plan now is to investigate , investigate, investigate, and get their faces on televison as much as possible holding hearings attacking Pres. Obama, and not working to solve the big problems as they called them during the election, the economy. Their main goal now is to attack Pres. Obama any way they can. If CNN doesnt ask the tough questions of these Republicans, and allows them to attack the President without asking tough questions of Sen. McCain, like , "Benghazi was a tragedy, but there already is an investigation going on, dont you think the American people would rather you and the Republicans work on solving the deficit, than to spend all your time attacking and investigating the President? You lost the election, is this the way you are going to spend the next four years, on a vendetta?" If CNN doesnt ask these tough questions of the Republicans, and lets them go off on tangents, then CNN shouldnt have the respect of the American people either. Anderson and Erin Burnett seem to be swallowed up by this Republican smoke screen and are falling right into their trap. They need to start asking why the Republicans are going after Obama and not concentrating on the deficit. The deficit now seems to be the last thing on thier minds

    November 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Jane - WI

      Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the FBI have spent more time investigating an affair by the CIA director than they have spent getting to the bottom of the terror attack. Why is it that the news media found classified documents scattered around the site AFTER the FBI left?

      November 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Steve

      You're telling me that you actually believe that abandoning Ambassador Stevens is not worthy of investigation.
      Hope your life doesn't ever rely on our State Department or President Obama's inaction

      November 15, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  13. Ted

    What genius is comparing this to the Condoleeza Rice statement? The WMD's were moved from Iraq to Syria prior to the invasion. It's a fact even backed up by the Obama administration when they scrambled to ensure WMD's were not accessible by the rebel forces. Our wonderful press never questioned where they may have come from. There was nothing factual about Susan Rice's statement on five different shows in one day.

    November 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • steve

      Once again we have somebody ill informed. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there were any WMD or that they were moved to Syria.

      November 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  14. Valarae Hungerford

    McCain give it up you lost 4 years ago and again.

    November 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  15. Buddy R. Fleming

    Sen. McCain is just upset mad hurt he lost the race to our wonderful President Obama, My way of thinking is this,. he wasn't the best of pilots shot down was some what of a Hero . Chose the salmon Smelling lady from Alaskia as his running mate How well did he know her , note E-Mails I hope now he will have to Pay Some of His Beatiful Wifes Beer Money to the POOR PEOPLE
    of our GREAT NATIONT TAX TAX TAX. Thanks BR FLEMING

    November 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  16. carl nelson

    Push McCain Graham and the rest of the white head dinosaurs over the fiscal cliff . They are so 2007. Yawn.

    November 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  17. Rich

    McCain says the American people want answers, but it is really him trying to dig up dirt about the President. He seem to be mad about his failure to gain the presidency and also the failure of the Rebublicans as a whole.

    McCain if you are listening you need to get a life.

    As far as Bengazi is concerned ... yes we should have sent in a dozen or more marines ... so they could have lost their brave lifes as well to an overwheming force.

    What is up your logic mr. Mccain.

    November 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  18. K Lea

    HOW MANY SAGAS OF OBAMA DRAMA ARE WE GONNA HAVE BEFORE WE CAN GET ON WITH OUR LIVES.
    We are certainly in for some silly cat fights and child's play from left right and center. From wanna-be presidents, to the wanna-be heard wealthy. Right down to the ignorant wanna-be seen, man in the street. But THE BIG "" O "" got character, we ready to move on.
    Certain people gonna hate, especially the ones who's taxes will go up.
    McCain needs to cut some slack to Romney, this is his turn to hit out, shake off some the frustration.
    Cut out the silly, you little brats, we got work to do.

    November 14, 2012 at 7:10 pm |