Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stumped for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney Friday afternoon at the Woodbridge American Legion, focusing on national security, sequestration and the Virginia economy in a speech before a crowd of supporters and veterans.
"It's a nostalgic day for me, because it was 45 years ago today that I intercepted a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane, and parachuted into a lake in the center of the city of Hanoi," McCain said. "I land in the lake in the center of town, and it's a five-minute ride to the prison." McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, spent five years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.
After speaking briefly about his own military service, McCain expressed concern about the country's national security.
"I'm very worried about the future of this country. I'm very worried about the lack of leadership that we have just seen displayed in this Libyan debacle by our so-called commander-in-chief," he said. "There were numerous requests for help from the people under siege in the consulate, and those requests were turned down. I don't know how they explain not trying to come to the aid of these men."
He said President Barack Obama ought to explain this to Americans.
Sequestration would also hurt national security, McCain said, because it would cut more than $500 billion of defense spending.
"Those draconian cuts would have a devastating effect on the economy of Virginia," McCain said.
McCain compared Romney to President Ronald Reagan.
"When Reagan came to the presidency, they said he had no experience, he'd only been the governor of California, he was a cowboy, he was going to get us in a bunch of wars," McCain said.
Romney, like Reagan, had a "vision for America, a belief in American exceptionalism," he said.
He urged veterans to get out the vote for Romney, saying those in the military "deserve a better leader than the one they have in the White House today."
"It's important to us, but it's far more important to our kids and our grandkids," he said. "The greatest strength of America has been that every generation of Americans has passed on to the next generation a better nation than the one that they inherited. I cannot promise you that that will be the case unless we elect Mitt Romney to be the next president of the United States."
Virginia Del. Rich Anderson (R-51st) told Patch that McCain was uniquely suited to speak to veterans' groups.
"It's important that he motivate the military and veteran vote which have a huge stake in the outcome," Anderson said. Anderson is chairman of the Military and Veterans Caucus in the Virginia General Assembly. "I think he represents veterans' values, which are a critical question at play in this election. With the downsize of the military, whether sequestration happens or not, it's created huge insecurities in the confidence with not only military people, but also private-sector businesses. There's a huge dimension here that he can speak to."