Republican Sen. John McCain said Thursday that President Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, because of the rise of the Islamic State group on the president’s watch. But he later issued a statement saying that he “misspoke.”
“I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the president himself,” McCain said in his statement, issued as his initial comments were drawing heated criticism from Democrats.
McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, spoke to reporters in the Capitol Thursday while Obama was in Orlando visiting with the families of those killed in Sunday’s attack and some of the survivors.
“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,” a visibly angry McCain said as the Senate debated a spending bill.