Arizona Sen. John McCain had some harsh words for President Obama Thursday, telling reporters the president was “directly responsible” for the tragedy that happened in Orlando at the Pulse Nightclub.
“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq,” McCain said.
This immediately drew criticism from the Democrats who were furious he would even make such a statement. A spokesman for Nevada Sen. Harry Reid accused him of being a “puppet” for Donald Trump, saying it was typical of what’s been happening to Republicans.
McCain retracted the statement shortly after and said he misspoke. “I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible,” he said. “I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the president himself,”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Trump has doubled down on his stances about immigration and Muslims. He even suggested Obama might sympathize with the terrorists. This has drawn a mixed response from Republicans who are trying to remain as neutral as possible.
But McCain reiterated that the policies under the Obama administration led to the rise of ISIS and allowed the terror group to expand.
“As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL,” McCain said. “I and others have long warned that the failure of the president’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.”