McCain spoke before a full house made up of veterans, college students, and members of the community.
After a brief introduction, McCain took the stage and addressed the roughly 500 people in attendance. The senator opened by thanking the attending veterans for their service. “You are the model that all of us want to emulate, the people that made the world safe for democracy,” he said.
He spoke on what he saw as President Obama’s failures. “This president doesn’t lead,” he said. He spoke at length on sequestration, an agreement made in Congress that stated if a proposal to reduce the national deficit was not agreed upon by Jan. 1, deep spending cuts would be made, including as much as $500 billion in defense.
McCain criticized the president for his refusal to compromise with Republican members of Congress before sequestration goes into effect.
McCain discussed foreign policy, a topic that resonated with the high number of veterans of foreign wars in the building.
“We have a feckless foreign policy that is a disaster for American national security,” McCain said. He criticized the administration’s refusal to intervene in the civil war in Syria and the handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. McCain made it clear that he views the president as weak on international affairs. “This president, who started out by going around the world and apologizing for America, does not understand the importance and the historic role of the United States of America in the world,” he said.
McCain finished his speech by emphasizing the importance of the 2012 election and Florida’s role as a swing state. “Where we’re going to win the state of Florida is in the Panhandle and with our veterans who care about America and our security.”
McCain encouraged audience members to get out and vote over the course of the next month and to campaign actively.
McCain’s appearance was very well received. “It was a very positive speech,” said retired Army Captain Tom Albert. “We’re really concerned about the direction of this country, and I think he hit it on the head.”