By The Hill Staff - 02/27/11 10:59 PM EST
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) called for the United States to provide arms to the opposition groups in Libya so the protesters can defend themselves from dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
“We should start with a no-fly zone, recognize the opposition government as the new government of Libya and give them arms,” Lieberman said on “State of the Union.”
Both men expressed worry that President Obama’s administration did not respond quickly enough to support opposition groups in the Middle East and that more could be done.
McCain said Gadhafi’s “days are numbered” and that it is now about “how many more people are massacred in the days ahead.”
On “Meet the Press,” McCain said he does not believe the situation is serious enough at this point for the United States to send ground forces.
The senators spoke from Cairo, where they met with Egyptian military government leaders. They said Egypt is heading in the right direction and that the United States should feel good about having supported the Egyptian military in the past.
“We urged them to be inclusive in their new government,” Lieberman said. “They definitely don’t want to be running the government.”
McCain and Lieberman also visited Israel last week and spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the stability of the Middle East. “He feels less secure because of the unpredictability,” McCain said.
Lieberman said Netanyahu was overall very supportive of the democratic movements in the region and was encouraged that more democracies in the Middle East would lead to better relations for Israel.
Walker, Daniels hold fast in their union disputes
Republican governors of Wisconsin and Indiana, now embroiled in major labor disputes, stood their ground Sunday and criticized the Democratic legislators who fled to avoid tough votes.
“It’s one thing for people in the private sector to express their views,” Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) said during a “Fox News Sunday” appearance. “It’s another for public servants, receiving a public paycheck, having lost a major election, to try to trash the process ... While they’re subverting the democratic process, there is nothing to talk about.”
“Obviously, the 14 senators need to come back home to do their jobs,” Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) said on “Meet the Press.” Those senators have blocked action on legislation to curb collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Walker implied that if the group does not come back, state workers may be laid off, but said he would exempt police officers and firefighters.
“I’m not making a value judgment in general [against public workers],” he said.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) said the same in an appearance on “Face the Nation.”
Asked if his battles with the state’s teachers unions have demonized the profession, he said that, on the contrary, unions tend not to do right by good teachers. “They protect the worst of the worst,” he said of unions.
Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) touted a more collegial approach in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
“There is another way to do this … We can do it with labor at the table … We need to turn to each other instead of on each other,” he said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) agreed. “It’s going to be a challenge to have that kind of adversarial relationship [between the governor and the legislators]. It’s going to get in the way.”
Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) took a harder approach, commenting on the likelihood of a government shutdown at the federal level and congratulating the House Republican freshmen who have made it a possibility.
“It’s up to the president to go and negotiate with the Republicans,” she said. “It’s not up to the Republicans to go and negotiate with him.”
Gadhafi son disputes attacks, vows to stay
Saif Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Sunday disputed accounts that his father’s government had attacked protesters, and said his family has no plans to leave the country.
“We live here; we die here,” he said in an interview with Christiane Amanpour. “The Libyans are our people. For myself, I believe I’m doing the right thing.”
The Gadhafi regime remains in control of Tripoli, while rebels are reported to have taken Zawiya, in the west, and several other towns. Reports of violence against civilians have prompted the United Nations to mount a war-crimes process against Gadhafi.
But Saif, who is also an adviser, denied such violence had taken place.
“Show me a single attack! A single bomb! A single casualty!” he said. “The Libyan Air Force simply destroyed ammunition strongholds … There is a big, big gap between the reality and media reports.” Saif also urged the United States to stay out of the situation.
“It’s not America’s business. That’s No. 1,” he said.
Saadi Gadhafi, a professional athlete who is affected by a U.N. ban on travel by high-ranking Libyan officials, described the uprising as an “earthquake” and a “fever.”
“This is my personal opinion. No one can stop it,” he said. “The chaos will be everywhere … If he [Col. Gadhafi] leaves today, it’ll be civil war in Libya.”