Sen. John McCain Thursday backed former President George H.W. Bush's negative comments
about Donald Rumsfeld in his new biography and slammed the former defense secretary's response as "very regrettable."
"I agree with Bush 41 in that I called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld because we were failing in Iraq at the time," McCain, the Arizona Republican who now chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. "Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman and I were there enough to see that we were on a downward spiral.
"I’ve got to hand it to George W. Bush," the senator continued. "He fired him after the 2006 election debacle. I praised George W. Bush for that, and he brought in David Petraeus, he brought in the surge, and we turned it all around.
"And unfortunately, then President [Barack] Obama decided to pull everybody out — and all those wasted lives were in vain."
In a new biography — "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,"
by Jon Meacham — Bush 41 said that his son did not benefit from the assistance of Rumsfeld and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
He called Rumsfeld "an arrogant fellow" and Cheney an "iron-ass."
In response, Rumsfeld told
NBC News: "Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions."
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, bashed Rumsfeld's response.
"That's very regrettable to say something like that," he told Mitchell. "One thing about Bush 41 is, as time passes, we appreciate him more and more — not only for as president of the United States but for being such a wonderful, decent man.
"A 19-year-old who was shot down in World War II — just a lovely, lovely man," McCain continued. "And to say that, of course, is frankly authenticates the comments that are made about Donald Rumsfeld."
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