McCain talks about veterans, political issues in campus talk
Americans owe a debt to military veterans and can look up to them and to men and women in active military service as examples, said U.S. Sen. John McCain in a public talk Nov. 11 at the University of Louisville.
The senator, a former naval aviator and prisoner of war, gave a brief reflection on military service before answering a few questions that had been submitted before his talk.
In his prepared remarks, he emphasized the sacrifices of military men and women, past and present, for "our freedom."
"We must not forget what they did and the debt we owe them," he said. "America doesn't depend on the heroism of every citizen. All of us must be grateful for the sacrifices made on our behalf."
He also stressed the importance of serving a cause greater than oneself.
McCain stepped fully into his role as senior Republican Arizona senator and recent presidential candidate to answer questions on topics that ranged from the Fort Hood shootings of last week to advice for a 14-year-old Boy Scout who wants to go to the Naval Academy.
Noting that he is not prepared to reach a conclusion on the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shootings until the investigation is concluded, he called it a "tragedy we cannot allow to occur again."
"We should make sure that political correctness never impedes national security or impacts it," he said.
"I believe it was an act of terror."
McCain also expressed his opinion on the importance of a presidential decision in U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, specifically on the resources necessary for success.
"Unless you provide a secure environment for the people to carry on their lives normally, you don't succeed," he said.
"The worst thing we can do is have half measures that send our young men and women into harm's way but don't allow them to get the job done," he said, noting that he feared that more than a complete pullout of troops.
"We owe it to the men and women in the military and to the people of America to have that decision made and made as soon as possible."
McCain also made a point about government spending, saying that proposed veteran's programs are "being held up" because to approve them would be to authorize programs without funding - a proposition he likened to "generational theft."
He also discussed Republican representation in formulating health care reform, giving the 1980s example of Sen. Tip O'Neill and President Ronald Reagan sitting down at a negotiating table and agreeing on how to "save Social Security."
"I'm waiting for Sen. (Mitch) McConnell to be invited into the room and asked 'What's your input into health care in America'," he said.
McCain was on campus as a guest of the McConnell Center. Following the talk, he met with McConnell Scholars and attended an invitation-only opening of the Mitch McConnell and Elaine L. Chao Archive. The new archive is in UofL's Ekstrom Library. A public open house of part of the facility is scheduled for Nov. 12.
About 800 people attended the senator's talk, which also was streamed live.