08:30 - Source: CNN
ISIS: McCain responds to Obama's comments

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Sen. John McCain says Ashton Carter is qualified for Secretary of Defense position

McCain warned that Carter will have little say in ISIS decision making process

McCain blames the White House for not involving top members at the Pentagon

Washington CNN —  

Sen. John McCain agrees that Ashton Carter is “qualified” for the Defense Secretary position, but warns that he won’t have much say on pressing national security issues.

“I’m sure that he’s been around long enough to know that he will have little to no voice in the crucial decision on national security,” he told reporters Tuesday in Washington.

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McCain, who will pick up the Armed Services Committee gavel in January, is likely to chair Carter’s confirmation hearing, if he is nominated by President Barack Obama, which sources told CNN is expected to happen soon. While he thinks Carter will have a smooth hearing, he doesn’t think he’s the right person to lead the fight against ISIS. And it’s not his fault.

“No one can [lead the fight] because the White House, according to his three predecessors, centers all of the decision making among a handful of people in the White House who have only one thing in common: that they don’t know anything about the military,” he said.

The Arizona senator has continually attacked the president for being soft on combating ISIS. In a recent interview on Comedy Central’s “Colber Report,” McCain said boots on the ground is an inevitable reality, but there’s no way of knowing when it will happen because the president has remained passive on the issue.

“It’s a reality, this administration doesn’t give decision making authority to anybody but three or four people in the White House, which is one of the reasons it’s been such an abysmal failure.”

McCain says Carter will have to answer questions about the administration’s ISIS strategy, “but it won’t impact his nomination.”

Carter is currently second-in-line at the Pentagon, serving as Deputy Defense Secretary under Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel.

CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report