Sen. John McCainJohn McCainEx-Bush aide Nicolle Wallace to host MSNBC show Meghan McCain: Obama 'a dirty capitalist like the rest of us' Top commander: Don't bet on China reining in North Korea MORE (R-Ariz.) on Friday said his visit with rebels in Benghazi, Libya, was "one of the most exciting and inspiring days of my life."
Prior to the mid-March start of U.S. and coalition bombing of Gadhafi's military and the establishment of a no-fly zone, McCain had been among the most vocal U.S. lawmakers calling for American intervention as the Libyan leader pushed back against rebel fighters.
His arrival in Benghazi came less than one day after Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Obama had approved the use of Predator drones to strike Gadhafi forces. U.S. fighter aircraft and aerial gunships had been involved in the opening weeks of the campaign but recently took a backseat to NATO warplanes as the alliance took command of the operations.
Some Libyan rebel fighters and National Council members, however, have criticized NATO for failing to provide the needed combat punch to help opposition fighters counter pro-Gadhafi forces.
A source told The Hill on Friday that many of the U.S. flags Libyan citizens were waving were homemade.
Once word got out of the senator's pending visit got out, other American flags were brought in from Tunisia and Egypt, the source said. The U.S. delegation did not take any copies of Old Glory for distribution, according to the source.
The source called it a "surprisingly ... very pro-American crowd."
—This story was posted at 9:25 a.m. and updated at 3:42 p.m.