TAMPA -- U.S. Sen. John McCain said President Barack Obama is failing to address “tectonic and historic change” sweeping the world, which is making the United States look weak.
“If we show weakness, then obviously the things that may occur may not be in America’s interest,” McCain told 120 students at the University of Tampa on Tuesday.
McCain discussed a number of recent international crises with the students, including the anti-Islam video that contributed to the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya. A student asked if the Obama administration’s request of Google to review the video was insulting to free speech (Google has censored the video in several countries). McCain said the video was unknown until radical Islamists used it to fuel violent protests.
“It wasn’t a hateful video. It was a group of radical Islamists who will do anything to hurt the United States of America and everything we stand for and believe in,” he said. “So we play into their hands when we say, ‘Oh yeah, this was a hateful video.’ It wasn’t a hateful video. The hateful video was the vehicle that these people use, that want to stone women for revealing their face, who want to hang people from the goalpost, who want to repress the rights of people.
“To blame it all on a video, you’re blaming the messenger, not the message itself,” he said.
McCain expressed particular disappointment for the administration’s inaction in Syria, where he said the U.S. should be providing weapons to rebels trying to overthrow Bashar Assad.
“It’s not an honorable chapter in American history, I can tell you that,” he said. “We’ve stood up for people throughout our history who were the subject of brutal oppression by dictators all over the world.”
The Mitt Romney campaign billed McCain’s visit as the first of three stops on his “Veterans for Romney” bus tour. The talk better suited the description from a UT professor: a “seminar on leadership, the future of the military and veterans affairs.”
McCain did not mention Romney’s name until reporters huddled with him for questioning after his talk.