NEW ORLEANS REPORTER: “My understanding is that you voted twice against the creation of a commission to investigate the levee failures around New Orleans. My question is why have you voted against the creation of that commission?” JOHN MCCAIN: “I have supported every investigation and ways of finding out what caused the tragedy.”The Democrats jumped on John McCain on Wednesday when he claimed that he had supported “every investigation” into the Bush administration’s fumbled response to Hurricane Katrina. The presumptive Republican nominee twice voted against a Democratic proposal to set up an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the causes of the tragedy, opting instead for a congressional investigation.
The Senate split along party lines back in September 2005 and February 2006 when Hillary Clinton proposed setting up a bipartisan commission to investigate the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. McCain voted with the then Republican majority in the Senate for a congressional investigation rather than a 9/11 style commission.
The Senate committee on Homeland Security chaired by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me) held extensive hearings into the failure of the levees in New Orleans and ended up issuing a series of reports critical of the Bush administration’s response.
Had McCain chosen to give a “straight talk” answer to the New Orleans reporter, he might have acknowledged voting against the Clinton proposal for an independent commission while explaining why he preferred a Congressional investigation. Instead, he laid himself open to criticism by saying that he had supported “every investigation” into the tragedy.
“This really isn’t a story man, particularly with everything going on today,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers e-mailed me. “As Sen. McCain said, he wasn’t familiar with the specific votes the questioner was asking about. Instead he was speaking to his strong support for the Homeland Security Committee’s comprehensive, bipartisan investigation of Hurricane Katrina, which was already fully underway when these other proposals were suggested.”
The McCain claim that he was “not familiar” with his own Senate votes on investigating Hurricane Katrina seems a little strange given the fact that he had just arrived in Baton Rouge from New Orleans , and the city and its problems was much on his mind.
The Republican candidate is on reasonable ground when he claims that he supported a full investigation into the New Orleans tragedy. But his response to the New Orleans reporter was badly phrased. Was this a “senior moment” or an example of less-than-straight talk from McCain? Let me know what you think. Link to the original Washington Post story>>