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McCain Condemns 'Loose Talk' on Campaign Trail

McCain condemned the campaign rhetoric. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to condemn what he called "loose talk" on the presidential campaign trail over the use of torture.  

McCain, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese as a prisoner while serving in the Vietnam War, sought to dismiss statements from GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Trump said during a Saturday debate that he would bring back waterboarding and other forms of torture. The rhetoric escalated Monday night, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, when Trump at a rally repeated an audience member who called presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a "pussy" for not supporting waterboarding.

"It might be easy to dismiss this blusterous and cheap campaign rhetoric," McCain said on the floor. "But these statements must not go unanswered because they mislead the American people about the realities of interrogation, how to gather intelligence, what it takes to defend our security and at the most fundamental level, what we are fighting for as a nation and what kind of nation we are."  

McCain spent more than five years as a P.O.W. during the Vietnam War, where he was interrogated and tortured. He referred to his own experience on the Senate floor.  

"I know from experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence," McCain said. "I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information, if they think that their captors will believe it."  

"Most of all," he later added, "I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights."  

Contact Bowman at bridgetbowman@cqrollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc.

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Topics: 2016 trump