- McCain joined Tillis in slamming Hagan's Armed Services committee attendance record.
- ISIS has become a campaign issue after the Tillis campaign attacked Hagan's hearing attendance.
The Republican candidate for Senate in North Carolina brought in a foreign policy and national security heavyweight, a week after his opponent Sen. Kay Hagan's Armed Services Committee attendance record became a lightning rod in the contentious race.
Sen. John McCain joined state House Speaker Thom Tillis on the campaign trail Thursday in an effort to boost the Republican nominee's national security credo in a race where the fight against ISIS has become a top campaign issue.
As both candidates criticized President Barack Obama's strategy in Iraq, McCain praised Tillis an "experienced, talented, proven leader," the Raleigh-based News & Observer reported.
And McCain, who is also a member of the Armed Services Committee, gave weight to attacks against Hagan for missing more than half of all the committee's public hearings in the last two years, as well as one classified briefing on ISIS and other national security threats with the Director of National Intelligence, which she missed for a fundraiser in New York.
"We hold hearings so that we can be better informed and when she doesn't show up, obviously, it indicates that she's not well-informed" McCain said according to the Associated Press. "These are very, very serious times, and Sen. Hagan wasn't there."
Hagan's campaign has pushed back since Tillis and outside allies slammed Hagan in ads for missing the crucial briefing, asserting the Senator attended 98% of the committee's votes.
Hagan's camp has also fought back with an ad of its own, knocking Tillis for his own uninspiring attendance record in the state legislature, where he played hooky several times to fundraise for his campaign.
Tillis beat back those accusations on a call with reporters last week saying, "Quite honestly, if I had anything approaching the seriousness of the threat of ISIS, I would have canceled anything I was doing."
McCain's presence next to Tillis, this time at an event with a veterans' group, also served to deflect criticism that the North Carolina Republican has offered few specifics for how he would confront the ISIS threat.
McCain has been one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration's strategy for confronting ISIS, particularly the White House's public claim that the U.S. will not put American boots on the ground -- and that it can still defeat ISIS.