Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during a Monday broadcast of CNN’s “Starting Point” challenged the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza and CNN’s Roland Martin for questioning whether U.S. military veterans are concerned with how the Obama administration has handled the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“Incompetence or cover-up, there was no demonstration,” said Sen. McCain, referring to the Obama administration’s original explanation for the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. “The Libyans called it right away and everyone knows it.”
“Ryan,” host Soledad O’Brien said to Lizza, “do you think what he is describing is going to have an impact as people go to the polls. Or do they focus more on the economy? Or do they focus more on the social issues that matter to them? Or is it all of the above?”
“It’s going to be jobs and the economy,” Lizza responded, “but I always found it curious that Republicans have spent so much time on Benghazi when they must know that every minute spent talking about foreign policy is a minute they’re not talking about what voters say they’re going to be voting on, which is jobs and the economy.”
“I agree with [Sen. McCain],” Lizza continued, “It’s important to get to the bottom of what happened, um, and Congress should investigate it, the administration should appoint some independent expert to get to the bottom of it, but just purely on the politics, I doubt outside of the very conservative, basically the Republican Party, it’s going to do a lot to move the votes in Romney’s direction.”
Everyone’s favorite pundit Roland Martin decided to jump in.
“I’ve heard veterans more outraged when the U.S. Senate didn’t even pass the veterans job bills, and they said, 'that’s directly impacting us,'” said Martin, “when you look at the veterans unemployment rate, and so I’ve heard that from a number of veterans as well.”
An amused-looking Sen. McCain let Roland finish and then responded.
“Well, I don’t expect Mr. Martin of Mr. Lizza to understand our veterans,” Sen. McCain replied, “I know them. I’ve seen them out there.”
“[V]eterans do care what happens to other veterans. Veterans are upset. Maybe Mr. Lizza doesn’t understand that and I wouldn’t expect him to, to tell you the truth. The fact is, veterans care about this and there has been a cover-up for seven weeks,” the former prudential candidate added.
“Mr. Lizza and Mr. Martin, I respect their views, I don’t think they’re grounded in any experience,” the Arizona senator concluded.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report. All photos courtesy the AP.