Sen. McCain: We owe answers to the American people on Libya

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 15, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Well, the boxing over Benghazi continues. Just hours after several Republican lawmakers slammed rumors of the possibility that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice would replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, well, the president jabbed back.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham, and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them.

But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.


CAVUTO: All right, to Senator John McCain himself, who was trying to reach out to the president and get answers from the president.

Senator, good to have you.

What did you think of that?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Well, I think it is unfortunate because, first of all, if she had nothing to do with Benghazi, our U.N. ambassador, then she shouldn't have been out on all of the Sunday shows that Sunday some five days afterwards stating that this was a spontaneous demonstration that was triggered by a hateful video, which has turned out to be absolutely false.

There was no demonstration. So, I don't know how you logically assume that she had nothing to do with Benghazi, since it was the White House that had her out on all of the Sunday shows.

Second of all, I am not trying to get into a mano a mano with the president of the United States. I am trying to find out answers that resulted -- the situation that resulted in the death of four brave Americans. And, obviously, there have been so many conflicting stories and so much conflicting information, including the president of the United States at the end of the second debate with Mitt Romney saying, I said it was a terrorist attack in the Rose Garden on the 12th, when that was not true.

And that night, he went on "60 Minutes" and told Steve Kroft that he didn't know who it was, that he had no idea what caused it. And so he either didn't tell the truth when he was talking in the second debate, or he didn't tell the truth on "60 Minutes."

I think I have it, the exact quote, here somewhere. And it is really -- you know, the American people deserve answers.


CAVUTO: Well, do you think he is then deflecting, Senator, on making Ambassador Rice the issue and that you are going after the wrong person? What do you think of that?

MCCAIN: Again, I don't -- I don't know what to think, because I don't think someone who gave false information when there was correct information out there -- this was five days afterwards.

When I was on the Sunday show, which was "Face the Nation," right after she spoke, the president of the -- of the Libyan legislative assembly came on and said, this was Al Qaeda. This was a terrorist attack. So right there, it was refuted.

And, obviously, facts have come in since the attack in the intervening five days that clearly indicated that it wasn't just a spontaneous demonstration. So, she is responsible.

But the main thing is, the president of the United States is responsible and his team. And we need to find out exactly what happened. We owe that to their families, and we also have got to do what we can to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

CAVUTO: What would you do if she is his pick for secretary of state?

MCCAIN: Well, I would oppose her, unless she has some logical explanation.

I will listen to anybody tell their side of the story. But clearly right now, I would be opposed because the American people were told false information by her at the direction of the White House.

CAVUTO: What would you think if the pick was Senator John Kerry?

MCCAIN: I think we would obviously want to advise and consent.

But Senator John Kerry did come within a whisker of being president of the United States, as you know. And I have known him for many of years. I haven't agreed with him on a number of issues, but, you know, as you and I are constantly reminded, I am not the president. So, I do give -- I do give some -- some latitude to the president of the United States.

CAVUTO: You know, Senator, a lot of people looked at what the president did yesterday and said yesterday, and that it appeared to be a cheap shot at you, as if to frame it, he can't pick on me, he's picking on poor Susan Rice.

What do you think?

MCCAIN: Well, I think that if...


MCCAIN: ... if he reviewed my comments over the last several weeks, I think most of comments were directed at what did the president know, when did he know it, and what did he do about it? When these -- when this report came in as a result of a meeting on August 15 that said we don't believe that we can -- words to this effect -- we don't believe that we can withstand a concentrated attack on the consulate, what happened? What happened?


MCCAIN: Shouldn't the president of the United States have known about that, the two attacks on the consulate in April and in June, the attempted assassination of the British ambassador?

All of those things, we should have known. And then of course during, why wasn't there military capabilities in place? God knows we have a lot of it in that part of the world. It was September 11. There had already been warnings. Why wasn't there a military capability there?

Why did it take seven hours? So, all of these questions need answers. And I am not -- as I say, I am not trying to have a confrontation, but I do believe that the American people are owed answers, particularly from a pure political standpoint, to be honest with you, why he would say what he said at the end of the second debate, which was clearly not true, to some 80 million people.

CAVUTO: Yes. Well, Senator, thank you very much for taking the time.

And I guess those of you who either like the senator or don't like the senator, I think it is fair to say he is not one who avoids confrontation or tries to deflect on certain people. Given this, he is always up for the fight, no matter how high and mighty you are. Ask any president of any party in recent history.

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