WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain says President Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, because Obama has allowed the growth of the Islamic State group on his watch.
McCain – who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election – made the comment to reporters Thursday while Obama was in Orlando visiting with the families of those killed in Sunday’s attack and some of the survivors.
In the aftermath of the shooting, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has accused Obama of putting U.S. enemies ahead of American’s own people. Trump also has suggested that Obama himself might sympathize with radical elements.
Democrats criticized Trump and some Republicans tried to distance themselves.
McCain is seeking a sixth term in the Senate from Arizona.
UPDATE: McCain walked back the comment slightly on Twitter:
To clarify, I was referring to Pres Obama’s national security decisions that have led to rise of #ISIL, not to the President himself
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) June 16, 2016
The Senator then sent out a full press release to the same effect.
McCAIN: 'I misspoke' pic.twitter.com/KoxHuljVwH
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) June 16, 2016