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Shep Smith, John McCain Have Tense Exchange About War (VIDEO)

03/09/2013 09:39 am ET | Updated May 09, 2013

Shep Smith had a tense exchange with Sen. John McCain about the "soul" of the Republican Party on Friday's "Studio B."

Smith spoke to McCain a day after the senator lashed at out at fellow Republican Rand Paul, calling his filibuster of the now-confirmed CIA chief John Brennan "ridiculous." Smith pressed him on whether or not he thought a rift was opening up in the GOP, but he got McCain riled up when he mentioned his infamous "bomb bomb Iran" comment from the 2008 presidential campaign.

"Senator, part of this is about a battle for the heart and soul of the party," Smith said. "There is a long-held Republican and conservative view on war, to avoid it at all costs. That sort of a voice has had a difficult time -- the Rand Paul wing, if you will, has had a difficult time having its voice heard. You and others have been interventionists: Let's intervene in Syria, intervene in Libya, let's bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran. Is it your sense that --"

"Do you really believe that?" McCain said, cutting him off. "You really believe that?"

"Sir, all I'm asking you, is it your sense that Rand Paul may be bringing together those people in the basement whom align maybe in some cases more closely with the left than with the right?" Smith said. McCain brought up Smith's "bomb Iran" comment again.

"If you're going to go back to this joke I said to a fellow veteran--" he said. "I didn't mean it as a joke, Senator, I'm sorry," Smith said.

"No, it was a joke," McCain said. "You're saying I wanted to bomb Iran and of course I never did." He also called the "interventionist" label "absolutely false," saying he simply wanted a "strong America."

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