Despite once voicing support for eliminating the Pentagon policy that prohibits gay individuals from serving openly in the military, the Republican senator more recently has signaled opposition to repealing the ban.
McCain, his party's 2008 presidential nominee, has defended "an obsolete, embarrassing, discriminatory policy that weakens our military and offends our values," Reid said on the Senate floor before a series of votes on extending tax cuts.
The majority leader likened McCain and other Republicans to the Peanuts cartoon character Lucy, who continues to pull the football away at the last second as Charlie Brown runs to kick it.
"First, Sen. McCain said he would seriously consider repealing it if the military leadership thought we should, and [when] the military leadership said it should be repealed, he pulled away the football," said Reid, according to Politico. "Then Sen. McCain said he would need to see a study from the Pentagon. When the Pentagon produced the study saying repeal would have no negative effect at all, he pulled away the football again."
The ranking Democrat continued, "And his latest trick, he said yesterday that he opposed repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' ... because of the economy. ... I repeat, the senior senator from Arizona said he couldn't support repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' because of the economy."
To make his case last week, McCain expressed skepticism over a newly-released Department of Defense report on the issue, directly challenging top Pentagon officials.
HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal reported at the time on the longtime senator's criticism:
Does this criticism have merit? Not according to the standards of modern survey research and the detailed description of the methodology included in the Defense Department's survey report.
In targeting McCain, Reid reportedly called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" an "obsolete, embarrassing, discriminatory policy that weakens our military and offends our values," adding that repealing the measure "would be a great stride forward for both equality and military readiness."
Brooke Buchanan, spokeswoman for the Arizona senator, e-mailed a statement to Politico reacting to Reid's critical comments. She wrote, "Perhaps someone should inform the majority leader the election is over."
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