TODAY   |  October 09, 2012

McCain: Romney ‘stacks up pretty well on foreign policy’

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) discusses Mitt Romney’s experience on foreign policy and compares it to President Obama’s after four years in the White House.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> john mccain was the gop candidate for president back in 2008 . senator, always good to see you. thanks for coming on.

>> thanks, matt.

>> i'm going to get to that campaign ad in a second, but when you ran for president four years ago, no one questioned your expertise or knowledge on foreign policy . i mean, it was considered one of your strengths. i'd like you to compare your knowledge on foreign policy with mitt romney 's. how do you think he stacks up?

>> i think he stacks up very well because he has the same instincts and principles and view of america's role that ronald reagan did that came to the presidency after being governor of the state of california. mitt understands the need for american leadership. he understands that this president is leading from behind. this president says that wars in the middle east are receding, that the tide of war is receding. well, what's receding in the middle east is american leadership. when you look at afghanistan, iraq, the confrontation with iran, the looming -- the situation in libya where they sent out the -- i mean, on and on, calling that a terrorist attack simulated by a video, crazy.

>> but in his speech he said things like we need to be bold and decisive. he said what you said that, we're leading from behind, but that's pretty standard material for a speech like this. did he offer specifics? did he tell voters why he is going to be a game-changer when it comes to foreign policy ?

>> i'm confident that he did, because, again, america's role in the world has been one of retreat and disarray.

>> can you give me an example.

>> sure, sure, iraq. we should have left a residual force there, and it's now al qaeda is back returning and resurgence is there. in afghanistan, mitt romney would have listened to the advice of our military leaders. instead, he decided on his own to withdraw early and often, and we are now in a very serious situation there. as far as israel and palestinians concerned, no progress whatsoever because barack obama called for preconditions in a settlement freeze by the israelis, and in syria, the president until recently wouldn't even speak up for the people who are -- who are fighting and dying in syria under bashar assad .

>> let's talk about the economy now and this new ad that's come out from the obama campaign . peter mentioned it. let me play it for you this morning. i'd love your reaction. here it is.

>> i'm barack obama , and i approve this message.

>> bernie madoff, ken lay , dennis dozenlousky, criminals, gluttons of greed and the evil genius who toerd over them. one man has the guts to speak his name.

>> big bird .

>> big bird .

>> big bird .

>> it's me, big bird .

>> big, yellow, a menace to our economy. mitt romney knows it's not wall street you have to worry about, it's sesame street .

>> i'm going to stop the subsidy to pbs.

>> mitt romney , taking on our enemies no matter where they nest.

>> i'm not even sure what the question is, senator, but i'm just -- this is the kind of ad that just does get attention, so what's your reaction to it?

>> oh, i think it probably gets attention, but, again, it may show a paucity of ideas and ways to criticize mitt romney . the fact is that the economy is still in very bad shape, and obviously the american people are still in very difficult conditions, and the -- and the one thing that president obama can't run on is his record, and so big bird i guess is a fun thing to talk about. i love big bird . i'm for an earmark for big bird .

>> i know you are. i know you are. i'm on the record for that. the new poll that shows mitt romney taking the lead, 49% to 45%, it's a complete reversal from about two weeks ago. as the guy who was here last time around four years ago, how does he close the deal? what advice would you give him, and i heard you the other day, he hasn't asked, but what advice would you give mitt romney that you wish you had gotten at this stage four years ago?

>> i wish hi been a better candidate. i think mitt has got to understand that the president is an excellent debater. he'll be much stronger in the next debate. i think that it's obvious this whole attack -- matt, i've never seen anything like this continuous attacks, calling mitt romney a liar. that's not -- that's not an elevated debate. they may outline and highlight their differences, but just calling people a liar i think is not appropriate for a presidential campaign , but mitt also has to stick to message. i'm sure he will, and i am confident that he will continue to do well, but do not underestimate president obama in the next election, i mean, in the next debate.

>> won't be there for the next election, we would imagine. anyway.

>> no, no, no. the next debate.

>> senator john mccain , always good to have you here, sir. thanks for your time.

>> thanks for having me on.