Shep Smith Calls John McCain an "Interventionist" Bomb Thrower
Fox News' Shepard Smith on Friday called Sen. John McCain an "interventionist" and said he has supported wanting to "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," two charges the Arizona Republican strongly pushed back against during their at times testy exchange.
Smith and McCain had been discussing the United States' drone policy and Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster this week when the Fox News host segued into a question of what Paul's stance means for the future of the Republican Party.
"Senator, part of this is about a battle for the heart and soul of the party," Smith said. "There is a long-held Republican and conservative view on war to avoid it at all costs. That sort of a voice has had a difficult time. The Rand Paul wing, if you will, has had a difficult time having its voice heard. You and others have been interventionists. Let's intervene in Syria, intervene in Libya, let's bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, is it your sense that --"
"Do you really believe that? You really believe that?" McCain responded.
"Sir, all I'm asking you, is it your sense that Rand Paul may be bringing together those people in the basement whom align maybe in some cases more closely with the left than with the right?" Smith replied.
McCain pushed back, noting that Paul "was the one vote against the resolution in the United States Senate that said we should not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons." And, he started to tell Smith, "if you're going to go back to this joke I said to a fellow veteran," but the Fox News host jumped in to apologize.
"I didn't mean it as a joke, Senator, I'm sorry," Smith said.
"No, it was a joke," McCain replied. "And you're saying I wanted to bomb Iran and of course I never did. The party of Ronald Reagan is the party that believes that we should have peace through strength and that's the best way to prevent these things. I'm of the party of Ronald Reagan."
McCain also addressed Smith's charge that he and some others in his party are "interventionists," telling the "Studio B" host that it was an "absolutely false" label.
"To say we are interventionists is a mislabeling and absolutely false," McCain said. "We are for a strong America, and we believe that is the best way to prevent war, rather than a weakened military, which many of my colleagues now support, who are the isolationists, which goes all the way back post-World War I."
And McCain added that he thinks his wing of the Republican Party, which he said takes inspiration from Reagan, will still be the future of the party compared to what Paul brought to the table this week.
"After I came home from Vietnam, our military deteriorated to the point where the chief of staff of the Army came before congress and said we have a hollow army," McCain said. "We're doing that in the form of sequestration, and along came Ronald Reagan who restored our military, restored our strength, won the Cold War without firing a single shot. That's the wing of the party that I'm part of and will remain part of, and I believe will be the future of the Republican Party."