McCain's assessment of veterans support for Obama 'shameful'
CNN — Sen. John McCain's comments that veterans do not trust President Barack Obama in the wake of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, are "shameful," Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" on Monday.
"Obviously people have a lot of respect for somebody like John McCain but for somebody like that to go out there and say that people in the military don't trust the commander-in-chief, that's one of the more shameful comments I've heard in more than 20 years of being in politics," he said.
"I don't for one minute believe it and I think it's an awful thing to say even when your candidate is behind in a political campaign," Gibbs continued.
On CNN's "Starting Point" earlier in the day, McCain -- the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, a prominent veteran and a former prisoner of war -- said there was a mistrust of Obama among veterans following the September 11 terror attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
"I've been traveling all over the country and veterans are angry. They're angry; they're upset; they don't trust Barack Obama. There's 1.6 million of them in Florida, for example. I think they could have an impact on this election," McCain said.
McCain has been highly critical of the Obama administration's handling and explanation of the assault by armed militants, which officials originally said involved a protest gone awry outside the diplomatic post.
Conservatives have said the story of a demonstration over an anti-Islam film was used to divert attention from the compound's security, which they say was lacking, and the response, which they say was bungled.
"This cover up is the worst that I've ever seen, either incompetence or cover up. There was no demonstration," McCain said.
To counter McCain's charge of anger among veterans, Gibbs touted Obama's efforts.
"I think veterans know that when this president came into office, he made sure that the veterans of this country who had earned their benefits on the battlefields of war in foreign countries would be treated like they should when they got home," he said. "That's the commitment that Barack Obama has fulfilled."