December 2nd, 2010
08:39 PM ET

Lieberman suggests McCain changing his standards for supporting repeal of DADT

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

Editor's note: To watch Sen. Lieberman discuss "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" click here.

(CNN) – A longtime personal friend and political ally of Sen. John McCain implied Thursday that the former GOP presidential nominee is moving the goalposts when it comes to his support for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

McCain’s past comments suggested he might support repeal of the federal law that prevents gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military if a repeal was supported by military leadership. But the Arizona Republican has recently taken issue with results of a Pentagon survey of troops that supports a repeal and with the positions of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, both of whom also support a repeal.

Asked about McCain’s position, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said in an interview that airs Thursday night on Anderson Cooper 360° that he disagrees with his longtime friend who, he said, appears to be changing his standards for supporting a repeal of the controversial law.

“John is my good friend,” Lieberman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “but I disagree with him on this. The tapes you’ve played [of McCain’s past and recent comments] suggest changing standards here.”

Speaking at a congressional hearing on the issue Thursday where Gates and Mullen also participated, McCain again left open the possibility that he might support a repeal but also said that he thinks the issue needs further study by Congress.

In the interview, Lieberman also told Cooper that, in private conversations, he has tried to convince McCain to support a repeal of DADT, “but as is evident from today’s hearing, I’m not making much progress in my arguments.”

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Marry

    Oh, what a great country! You can give your live for it as a gay – thank you – but only when you are strait... Lovely!!
    If the military thought is generally just as simple, no wonder they are so “successful”…

    December 3, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  2. Fed Up

    John McCain is still attempting to inflict his outdated, out-of-touch views on today's military men and women.

    His relevance to today's military is non-existant.

    December 3, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  3. Dixie

    Neither of these men know whether they are fish or fowl. McCain likes the media attention he receives with his screwy outlook on every issue.

    December 3, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  4. Colleen

    A Republican changing his position and talking out both sides of his mouth. Anyone surprised? Isn't that thier specialty?

    December 3, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  5. DJ in TX

    As a veteran who served in the 1st Gulf War, the flip flopping of Senator McCain sickens me. He'll ALWAYS be thanked for his service, but I've lost respect for him on the political front. I'm in favor or the repeal, but it will need guidelines and regulations on conduct just as there for straight people. Do that and there should be no issues. But McCain changing his stripes with the wind serves no good.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  6. John from Lafayette

    It just like a REPUBLICAN can't keep their word on anything.All they do is LIE.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  7. Robert Cadalso

    McCain is senile. No, sorry, he's stubborn old man.

    December 3, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  8. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    McCain is still an angry old cuss, and that's not going to change. Losing to Obama (Bush, really – again) didn't help, either!

    Spending time in the Hanoi Hilton jades a man, and McCain wears it on his sleeve. I'm glad he lost or we'd be in worse trouble than we are now.

    Given that McCain got where he did in the Navy due to his father's station, I don't put much stock in his military experience, either! You don't graduate at the bottom of your academy class and get your first choice of station upon graduating; you go to the bottom of the list. But not John, he went straight to flight school where he had several mishaps that should have grounded him, permanently. Instead, they let him keep flying so he could get shot down – there's a stunner – in Vietnam.

    December 3, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  9. daniel joseph

    John McCain suggesting ..."further study by congress" is, simply put, downgight embarassing. We have wasted enough costly time over an issue that is so grossly unfair and racist, and should be put to rest...the longer we take ending this ridiculous policy, the more shame we should feel to call ourselves American!

    December 3, 2010 at 5:41 am |
  10. Jenn


    Isn't the real subject here tolerance? So, my advice is for the gov't. to work with all men and women to tolerate each others differences. I believe some of the fear for gay/lesbians is being outed, shaming and destroying their career. No one should not be asked or required to divulge nor silence the information on their sexual orientation. Don't ask don't tell should not be a policy. We should make tolerance the policy, so others do not act out hatefully in any way toward peoples race, creed, religion, sexual preference, or sex. Think of each other as a person first.

    One could hope.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:26 am |
  11. Denise

    we all are DEMOCRARTS.. Im married with 6 childeren and 2 grandbabies...does it matter who we want to go to bed with at nite to protect us? Whatever there sexuality...we sleep and they fight..for us..and for that I have much respect for whatever sexualality they are!! Goodnite.. I sleep while our MEN and WOMEN are out there...watching us while we dream...Goodnite all the way from Hot Spring, Arkansas

    December 3, 2010 at 2:40 am |
  12. Denise

    Dont ask? dont tell...whatever...I have had my dad, uncles brothers, cousins all in the military, from vietnam to the gulf...does it matter...they are all there protecting us! Come back to us Lieberian....if he is your true friend...he will understand your feelings..

    December 3, 2010 at 2:29 am |
  13. Joe

    No surprise that Senator McCain has changed his position on DADT. It's in keeping with his total rewrite of his past historical stands and principles so he could get re-elected this year. Wonder how it feels to still be in office but now known as someone with zero integrity.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  14. bob

    Mc Cain is out of touch with the real world.
    Young people do not care the way his generation did. And even his generation knew gay men served in the military successfully and without incident.
    You're out of the military McCain- time to stop with 19th- I do mean 19th century thinking.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  15. Christopher Bochniak

    Re: Gay in military vs. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

    In general, most nations in Europe, and other parts of the industrialized world, have a more progressive attitude than USA, a nation that prides itself on being the leader of the free world and frontier of human rights. If I am correct, the USA is the only country in NATO to maintain such a ban.

    The discussion over allowing gay men and women to openly serve in the military should be a non-issue when thought about it in rational manner. The negative attitudes (senator McCain and others like him) towards persons of a different sexual orientation is no more or less but discrimination against persons of different race or origin and should be condemns buy every intelligent person. Furthermore, discharges of service members cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year, and personal blackmail, all that violate basic human dignity as well.

    Thank you,


    December 3, 2010 at 1:05 am |
  16. Shawn

    I think this is a sad day for our country. Senator Mccain is not living up to his word on this important issue. Every time the conditions are met he seems to change his mind and then set new conditions. That is very sad and seems to be that he is taking this law very personal instead of being objective as he should be, with such a complex thing as this. When presented with the evidence today Senator Mccain continued to try to tear down everything these objective folks have work so hard to do without any bias in this thorough report. As the leaders who testified today said over and over again, it would be in the best interest of our great military to repeal this law on our terms, not on the terms of the courts. I call upon everyone of the nation to think of the greater harm that will be done if the law is changed by the court and not on the terms of the military nor congress. All those who vote against this law will pay for this in the long run, and could really upset the very institution that they are trying so hard to "preserve".

    A concern citizen....

    December 3, 2010 at 12:41 am |
  17. Matthew

    I don't believe we are any more ready for this than being ready for coed bathroom facilities.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  18. alex

    McCain its 2010 gays are out the closet,its time to adjust to the times the polls and top brass sees no problem with the repeal,time for you to step aside and let this country move foward, enough with changing your mind jobs are what we need, America Needs Unity.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  19. Anthony Ohmes

    Is Lieberman serious about our service members not caring who is serving beside them? I am a 10-point veteran, and you better believe I cared every second who had my life in their hands...and they better not be putting on lipstick while I'm being attacked or drowning.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  20. Jordan

    I don't think that it is wrong for Senator McCain to want to move slowly through the process of repealing DADT. People are fearful of change and it is okay for him to want to be confident that after the repeal is made their will be no backlash in the military. As well, the survey should also be redone because what any person thinks they should feel about a topic when it is not certain to happen and how they actually feel about a topic when it is likely to happen are very different. This has been shown in many social psychology experiments namely the implicit attitude test.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  21. Staff Sergeant Weaver

    Good evening Anderson, I belive we should keep the dont ask dont tell. If you are Gay (Male or Female) Just join the military if you want. You dont have to say your gay and we wont ask. Keep it private just like Mr. Liberman said. Thanks

    December 2, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  22. Darryl Breland

    Senator Lieberman states that "gays and lesbians have their private lives and that is how we want to keep it" – This is exactly what "don't ask don't tell does" – it keeps it private. This policy should remain in place for all soldiers regardless whether gay or straight. The military should never ask and they should never tell what their orientation is and it will remain private.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  23. Miles Mood

    John McCain did not support the civil rights. He voted against it and apologized for that while running in 2008. He declared he was on the wrong side of justice. He is doing the same thing again on DADT. I watched a CNN interview with John McCain and Candy Crowley. I am totally disappointed with McCain. The bottom-line, he is no longer relevant. It is people like him that turned me into an Independent voter. He should no longer command the spotlight because he truly adds no value any more. I like the man but I don't like what he has become especially after losing the election in 2008. He has become acutely bitter.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  24. Jerry, Chicago

    This senator is a relic and dinosaur that should retire his hate is showing. He looks so foolish and out of touch its kinda pathetic. Whenever you try to stop the progress of human rights Senator its time for you to go away and retire.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  25. David Bailey

    Don't Ask Don't Tell is discrimination.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  26. Ron C

    We don't agree with Sen. Leibermin because straight men and straight woman don't have to shower together but gay men and straight men do. So you can't compare one to the other, because clearly the latter would make most people feel uncomfortable.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
  27. Annie Kate

    Not against the law to change your mind but McCain is the last senator I expected to do this. What happened to being a maverick?

    December 2, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  28. alice

    McCain is a liar and I am so happy he is not our President, shame on those who voted for him to continue to be in the Senate.

    December 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
  29. Jimmy

    The thing no one seems to be putting on the table in this discussion is the fact that McCain is correct in asserting that young men & women are being killed or seriously injured on the battlefield. What McCain is not admitting is that some of those young men and women are actually gay young men and women. So it's ok for them to be seriously wounded or killed in action, it's just not ok to say that they are gay? Just want to make sure I understand McCain's ridiculous, homophobic argument.

    December 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  30. sara

    I don't understand how Arizona continues to elect McCain. He appears to Not be serious about doing his job. Everything appears to be political based. Mr. McCain should KNOW that a Soldier is a Soldier and no one cares what his/her sexual preferences are.

    December 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  31. marc in california

    McCain, for once listen to lieberman. he knows what he is saying. If you support the repeal of DADT, you will have taken one step closer to being a true representative of the people

    December 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  32. Tracy

    Shame on you John McCain. You are using the very same argument used 60 years ago to keep both African Americans and Jews from joining the United States military.

    December 2, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  33. crystal

    Lieberman never served.

    December 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm |