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McCain Vs. Obama

McCain Vs. Obama on Executive Power

Because excerpts naturally take a quote out of its original context, interested readers are encouraged to click through and read the speech in full.

  John McCain Barack Obama
Signing statements and executing laws he opposes 12/20/2007, Written response to Boston Globe query: "I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is ... As President, I won't have signing statements. I will either sign or veto any legislation that comes across my desk." 12/20/2007, Written response to Boston Globe query: "No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has gone much farther than that."
Warrantless wiretaps and telecom immunity

1/22/2006, Televised interview: "There are new challenges in the use of telecommunications that, in my view, indicate that we probably need some enhanced powers. But why not just come to Congress? ... I know of no member of Congress, frankly, who, if the administration came and said here's why we need this capability, that they wouldn't get it. And so let's have the hearings."

6/20/2008, Campaign statement: "For months, House Democrats, the ACLU, and the trial lawyers have held up legislation to modernize our nation's terrorist surveillance laws ... I am pleased Congressional leaders and the Administration were able to reach an agreement to reform our current surveillance law and not let FISA expire in August. I hope Senate Democrats will allow this matter to quickly be considered by the Senate and sent to the President for his signature. I will support this measure and hope that politics will be put aside in favor of this vital national security matter."

1/28/2008, Campaign statement: "I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill. Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend."

6/20/2008, Campaign statement: "Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders." (Source: Boston Globe)

Restraints on presidential authority on national security 10/2/2002, Speech on the Senate floor: "The President's authority is not absolute on these matters. But he is the Commander in Chief ... there is one Commander in Chief, not 535 of them. Restricting the President's flexibility to conduct military action against a threat that has been defined and identified makes the United States less capable of responding to that threat." 10/2/2007, Speech at DePaul University: "We face real threats. Any President needs the latitude to confront them swiftly and surely. But we've paid a heavy price for having a President whose priority is expanding his own power. The Constitution is treated like a nuisance. Matters of war and peace are used as political tools to bludgeon the other side."
Threats to the balance of powers between branches 2/4/2008, Written statement to the Federalist Society: "I believe that one of the greatest threats to our liberty and the Constitutional framework that safeguards our freedoms are willful judges who usurp the role of the people and their representatives and legislate from the bench … the rules we have agreed to live by are those made by the people themselves, not a small elite that claims to be wiser than everybody else."

2/26/2008, Speech in Cleveland: "It's time to give our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the tools they need to track down and take out terrorists, while ensuring that their actions are subject to vigorous oversight that protects our freedom. So let me be perfectly clear: I have taught the Constitution, I understand the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution when I am President of the United States."

12/17/2007, Article from Congressional Weekly examining Obama's writing on constitutional law issues: "For all of Obama’s background in constitutional law, there is a notable absence of writings, such as law journal articles, that might shed light on how he viewed executive power before he was a candidate. His campaign’s decision not to respond to a list of questions on specific subjects, such as war powers and signing statements, ensures that his views can remain vague."

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