McCain Backs ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

March 9, 2007 at 7:31 pm Leave a comment

By Kate Phillips NY TIMES

John McCain in New York last night. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

At a forum in New York on Thursday, Senator John McCain was asked a number of questions on myriad issues. While his position on the troop buildup is well known, he talked about a few other issues related to conservatives’ concerns about his candidacy.

Asked about the military’s policy toward gays, the Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy, Mr. McCain, the Republican from Arizona, said:

“I recently had a conversation with some other military leaders on this issue and their point to me was ‘It’s working, so leave it alone. Generally, overall, it’s working.’ I don’t think there’s any doubt that there are evolving attitudes in America about many issues, including this one, but every military leader that I talk to, I say ‘Should we change it?’ They say, ‘It’s working.’ And right now we’ve got the best military we’ve ever had – the most professional, best trained, equipped and the bravest. And so I think it’s logical to leave this issue alone. I really do.”

Another Republican in the field, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts who had once advocated allowing gays to serve openly in the military, said last month there was no need to change the policy now. He, too, said it was working well.

Mr. McCain also was asked about the seeming popularity — at this early stage in the 2008 race — of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has overtaken him in recent polls that largely serve as a measure of name recognition right now. “I don’t know the answer to that. If I did, it would be a lot closer.”

And on the Democrats’ new proposals for withdrawals from Iraq:

It’s certainly no better than the last. I just wish that my colleagues in the Democratic party would do two things: 1. Let this new strategy have a chance to succeed. And 2. Recognize that presidents don’t lose wars and parties don’t lose wars. Nations lose wars and the consequences are felt by the nation. So I would like for them to let the commander in chief be the commander in chief. If they feel so strongly that we should be getting out of Iraq, then they have a constitutional right to cut off funds. I have never heard of a war in history that was micromanaged by the Congress and that’s basically what they want to do.

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