Friday, January 9, 2009

McCain defends Obama's CIA pick - CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

John McCain said Friday that his former rival Barack Obama has put together an "excellent" national security team, and defended the selection of Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I'm not here trying to argue that this president is perfect and that there aren’t still disagreements, but I do think his national security team is an excellent one," McCain told Fox News.

He described his post-election conversations with Obama as "cordial" and said he has spoken with the president-elect about the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Asked about Obama's decision to name Panetta to run the CIA, McCain defended Panetta against early criticism that the former Clinton official lacked sufficient intelligence experience to lead the spy agency.

"Leon Panetta has great experience as chief of staff of White House," McCain said.

He called Panetta "highly qualified" and added: "In all due respect, I think it's not bad from time to time to have someone from outside the intelligence community, but with strong experience in the White House."
McCain spoke warmly of Obama on Friday.

McCain spoke warmly of Obama on Friday.

On the topic of Obama's economic stimulus package, McCain did not promise to support the plan, but said it deserves consideration.

"These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures," he explained. Despite the recovery package's hefty price tag, McCain said the tax relief measures included in the plan made him more inclined to examine it.

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