Pressure is mounting on the Assad regime, after the latest reports of a deadly chemical attack. Opposition groups say it killed more than 1,300 people. President Obama says the U.S. is still gathering information about what happened, but acknowledged, "this is clearly a big event of grave concern." It is raising serious questions about how his administration will respond. John King spoke with Senator John McCain who says the President has already "lost credibility" on ending the crisis in Syria.
Sen. McCain says he'll block U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice from becoming Secretary of State, if she's selected, because of her statements characterizing the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya as a spontaneous demonstration days after the incident.
"It was obvious to one and all that this was not a "spontaneous demonstration" because in real time they saw that there was no demonstration," said McCain. "Everybody knew that it was an al Qaeda attack and she continued to tell the world through all the talk shows that it was a "spontaneous demonstration" sparked by a video. That's not competence in my view."
Critics point out that McCain and other Republicans defended Condoleezza Rice after she made a case for invading Iraq based on false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction when she was National Security Adviser. Anderson asked the senator if there's a double standard. "I think these are two entirely different cases," said McCain.
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.
Anderson talks to Sen. John McCain about his push for a coalition of nations to join together for a military strike against Syria.
Sen. John McCain is calling for the United States to lead an international effort to stop the Assad regime. For more of their in-depth conversation about U.S. involvement in Syria, see Anderson's complete interview with Mr. McCain tonight on AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
Sen. John McCain reacts to Sarah Palin saying she would leave the door open if nominated for President at the Republican convention. Watch Anderson's complete interview with Mr. McCain tonight on AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
CNN Pentagon Producer
Washington (CNN) - Trash talk and criticism seems the norm in these days of social networking, talk radio and cable pundits. But now it's spreading to the halls Capitol Hill and the leadership of the Department of Defense.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates may have started it when commenting on an idea for establishing a no-fly zone over Libya to protect rebel forces.
"There's a lot of, frankly, loose talk about some of these military options," Gates told a House committee on Wednesday. "Let's just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That's the way you do a no-fly zone."
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has been one of the most vocal people on the Hill when it comes to supporting the idea of a no-fly zone. He responded Thursday in a Senate hearing.
"May I just say personally, I don't think it's loose talk on the part of the people on the ground in Libya, nor the Arab League nor others, including the prime minister of England, that this option should be given the strongest consideration."
But it's not just the idea of a no-fly zone that has these powerful men trading barbs in public.
(CNN) – Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain criticized the Obama administration's decision to try to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents gay service members from serving openly in the military, saying Sunday that "the system is working."
"The military is at its highest point in recruitment, in retention, in professionalism, in capability," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union." "So to somehow allege that this policy has been damaging the military is simply false."
Instead, McCain called the attempt at repeal "a political promise made by an inexperienced president or candidate for president of the United States."
His comments come as two top American defense officials are scheduled to head to Capitol Hill this week to discuss a new Pentagon report gauging the effects of repealing the policy.
McCain, who serves as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee was critical of the report.
CNN National Political Correspondent
Phoenix (CNN) – On primary day in Arizona, Republican Senator John McCain seemed a man of few words considering his front runner status. Joined by his wife, Cindy, who was wearing a leopard print suit, McCain voted at Phoenix's Madison Camelview Elementary School shortly after 9 a.m. MST. He chatted briefly with school kids and their parents then gave 21 seconds of remarks to the gathered press before refusing to take questions.
The candidate, seeking a 5th term as a U.S. Senator from Arizona, told gathered media: "We're looking forward to a good turnout today and there's already been a lot of early voting. We're confident we're going to win but obviously it isn't over till it's over."
McCain joked about the weather, and promised to "take nothing for granted." As he started to walk away, CNN asked him to respond to his opponent's charge that he'll move to the left if re-elected. The candidate smiled and kept on walking.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/08/03/senators.stimulus.spending/t1larg.jpg caption="A visitor center at Mount St. Helens, seen in 2004, is now closed, but got new windows under a stimulus project."]
Monkeys on cocaine. New windows for a closed visitor center. Modern dance as a tool for software development.
A report to be released Tuesday by conservative Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and John McCain cited these and 97 other projects as leading examples of misguided or wasteful spending under the Obama administration's $862 billion economic stimulus bill.
Titled "Summertime Blues," the report is the third by the two senators targeting projects that they say fail to meet the job-creation goal of spending under the Recovery Act of 2009.
"We owe it to all Americans that are paying taxes and struggling to find jobs, to rebuild our economy without doing additional harm, and to do it in a way that expands opportunities for future generations," said the introduction to the report by Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and McCain, R-Arizona. "Too many stimulus projects are failing to meet that goal."
While some projects in the report "may have merit," they are "being mismanaged or were poorly planned," the report said.
The Recovery Act, which was passed a few weeks after President Barack Obama took office, was a government-funded effort to kick-start economic activity in response to the ongoing recession.
It called for "shovel-ready" jobs - from road and bridge repair and construction to scientific research and expanded broadband and wireless service - through federal contracts, grants and loans, as well as helping state and local governments avoid layoffs and funding tax cuts.
The senators' report challenged the viability or effectiveness of specific projects across the country. However, the report's use of selected information from hundreds of footnoted sources left it unclear whether the brief summaries of each project told the whole story.