McCain walks back comments about American leadership being better under Obama

McCain walks back comments about American leadership being better under Obama
© Greg Nash

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's dangerous Guantánamo fixation will fuel fire for terrorists Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Ad encourages GOP senator to vote 'no' on tax bill MORE (R-Ariz.) on Monday walked back his comments that U.S. leadership under President Trump is worse than when President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Right way and wrong way Keystone XL pipeline clears major hurdle despite recent leak MORE was in office.

“I never said such a thing. A thousand times I said, ‘Look at the world in 2009 and look at it today.’ Of course, I never said [that]. If I did I was joking,” the Arizona senator reportedly told The Daily Caller.

McCain said last week that while American leadership was better under Obama, there are "different aspects" that are better under the Trump administration.

ADVERTISEMENT
McCain first said that the U.S. is not currently restoring leadership around the world in reaction to Trump's critical remarks on London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan told Londoners they should not be alarmed by the increased police presence following a terrorist attack in London earlier this month. 

"Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his 'no reason to be alarmed' statement. [The mainstream media] is working hard to sell it!" Trump tweeted on June 5, shortly after the attack occurred. 

McCain said this sort of message will lead the rest of the world to question U.S. leadership. 

"We're not showing leadership around the world," McCain said about the message Trump's remarks send. "[They're] not sure of American leadership, whether it be in Siberia or whether it be in Antartica."

When asked whether he thought American leadership was better under Obama than Trump, he responded: "As far as American leadership is concerned? Yes." 
 
But the Republican senator also hedged his comments by pointing to "different aspects" under each president and citing an improved situation with terrorist threats and organizations under Trump.
 
"There's different aspects. If you look at the world in 2009 and the world today, that's Obama," he said, adding that it is hard to compare.
 
"If you look at Afghanistan, if you look at Iraq and Syria, we're starting to turn things around, thank God," McCain said about the past six months of Trump's presidency.
 
- Updated: 4:00 p.m.