McCain: President has 'a lot to answer for' about Libya

Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:33 AM ET

Sen. John McCain escalated his battle Thursday with President Obama over the deadly September attack in Libya that left four Americans dead.

"I think the President of the United States has a lot to answer for,” McCain told TODAY’s Matt Lauer a day after he drew comparisons to what happened in the Benghazi consulate to the Watergate cover-up.

"Four Americans died when they didn't have to die," he said about the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens and three others.

McCain said the administration had ample intelligence that an attack was likely against the consulate and yet failed to protect the facility. 

He also said Obama misled the nation when, during his second presidential debate against Republican Mitt Romney, he called the attack an act of terrorism. McCain said the president actually was trying to learn details behind the attack.

“People don’t come to spontaneous demonstrations with rockets and mortars and rocket propelled grenades and heavy weapons,” he said. “For the president of the United States, for two weeks afterwards, to deny that that was the case, it's either a cover-up or it is incompetence, either one of the two.”

McCain's criticism comes a day after Obama had harsh words for the Arizona Republican for his promise to block any potential nomination of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to Secretary of State.

McCain said Rice misled the world after the attack by saying it was prompted by outrage over an anti-Muslim video, not terrorism.

Obama defended Rice for doing “exemplary work” and said for McCain and other Republicans to go after her when she "had nothing to do with Benghazi…to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

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