McCain, Kerry Have Tense Exchange at Foreign Relations Hearing (Video)

Posted April 8, 2014 at 3:56pm

Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., confronted Secretary of State John Kerry about the Obama administration’s foreign policy in a heated exchange at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing Tuesday.  

“I must say, I think you’re about to hit the trifecta,” McCain told Kerry, citing the ongoing conflict in Syria, the seemingly stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the uncertain nuclear deal with Iran, which McCain predicted would collapse.

McCain further lambasted Kerry, who was testifying on the administration’s national security and foreign policy budget priorities, on failing to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine, saying the failure to do so was “beyond logic.”  

“On the issue of Ukraine, my hero, Teddy Roosevelt, used to say talk softly, but carry a big stick,” said the Arizona Republican. “What you’re doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact, a twig.” Kerry responded to each of McCain’s critiques, first saying, “I guess it’s pretty easy to lob those judgments around, but particularly well before the verdict is in on any of them.”  

During Kerry’s rebuttal, McCain interrupted the secretary and told him that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were dead and Kerry needed to “recognize reality.”  

Kerry responded with a Teddy Roosevelt reference of his own saying Roosevelt “also said that the credit belongs to the people who are in the arena who are trying to get things done, and we’re trying to get something done.”  

Kerry also reminded his fellow Vietnam War veteran that the Vietnam peace talks took years to complete.  “It took them a year to design the table to sit around,” he said.  

Even after McCain’s time was up, Kerry and McCain continued their back and forth, with Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., stepping in to say, “I think you’ve both made your point.”