John McCain vs. Ted Cruz: Guns on military bases

Washington (CNN)John McCain says he has no idea what Ted Cruz is talking about -- again.

McCain, the Arizona senator who once called Cruz a "whacko bird," said the Texas senator running for president never pressed him to hold hearings about whether soldiers should be allowed to carry a personal firearm on military bases -- a claim Cruz made Sunday at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
"You know, I was fascinated to hear that because I haven't heard a thing about it from him. Nor has my staff heard from his staff. Where did that come from? I have not a clue," McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, told reporters Monday, according to The Hill.
He added that he would be "glad to discuss the issue" with Cruz to see if there should be a hearing.
    But Cruz's assertion Sunday that he has been "pressing" McCain for a hearing came as a "complete surprise" to the Arizona senator and one-time GOP presidential nominee.
    "Maybe it was through some medium that I'm not familiar with. Maybe bouncing it off the ozone layer, for all I know," McCain said according to The Hill. "There's a lot of holes in the ozone layer, so maybe it wasn't the ozone layer that he bounced it off of. Maybe it was through hand telegraph, maybe sign language, who knows?"
    Cruz acknowledged Tuesday that he had "misspoken" when he told an audience at a hunting club in New Hampshire that he has been "pressing" McCain to call hearings on the issue, which he said he was "very concerned about."
    "I will acknowledge I may have misspoken in New Hampshire when I said that I've been pressing John McCain and that what I have been pressing is the Armed Services Committee and John McCain is the new chairman of it," Cruz said Tuesday on Fox News.
    Conservative activists and legislators aligned with Cruz have been calling for the reversal of a policy forbidding service members from carrying a personal firearm on military facilities, claiming that service members should be better equipped to protect themselves from incidents like the Navy Yard and Fort Hood mass shootings.
    "I think it's very important to have a public discussion about why we're denying our soldiers the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights," Cruz told the group Sunday, Politico reported.
    Cruz clarified that he hasn't been pressing McCain directly on the issue but pointed out that he has raised the issue publicly in the last year at hearings and sent a letter last year to then-Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) about holding hearings.
    Cruz's office said Cruz is drafting a similar letter to McCain.
    "Senator Cruz has been discussing this issue for a long time and he looks forward to continuing to raise it in the Senate Armed Services Committee where he serves with Chairman McCain," Cruz spokeswoman Amanda Carpenter told CNN in an email Tuesday.
    Cruz, a first-term senator elected on a tea party wave, has often butted heads with establishment Republicans like McCain who see Cruz's unflinching postures as unproductive to passing legislation.
    Shortly after Cruz's clarification, McCain tweeted that Cruz "is a friend and valued member of the Senate Armed Services Committee."
    But McCain has made it quite clear that Cruz won't get his support during the Republican presidential primary. But that's not just because the two have butted heads.
    McCain has said he would support a bid by Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain's closest friend in the Senate, if he decides to run. Graham said this weekend he is "91% sure" he'll make a run for the White House, challenging Cruz and others in a crowded GOP field.
    As McCain joked about Cruz's claim, Cruz also took to humor -- laughing off McCain's response.
    "Oh I like John McCain," Cruz said Tuesday. "He can always be counted on for a good quote."