Republican U.S. Senator John McCain said Thursday that President Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for Sunday’s nightclub massacre in Orlando because of his handling of the Islamic State, though he later claimed he misspoke.
McCain, who ran as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 2008, made the comments when asked by reporters about the gun control debate that has reignited after Sunday’s attack, which left 49 people dead in the nation’s worst ever mass shooting.
“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 was quoted as saying by AP, which described the senator as visibly angry.
McCain added: “So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies.”
Hours later, McCain released a written statement in which he claimed to have misspoken. “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,” he said.
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