McCain hopes for fresh look at Afghan policy

Senator John McCain receives a "Fire Pelosi" sign from a photographer as he celebrates his victory after defeating Democratic candidate Rodney Glassman in Phoenix, November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Senator John McCain said on Tuesday in the wake of big Republican victories in Congress that he hopes President Barack Obama will take a fresh look at U.S. war policy in Afghanistan.

McCain won re-election to his Arizona Senate seat by a large margin, ensuring he will retain have a strong voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee as its ranking Republican member.

In an interview, McCain told Reuters he was looking forward to a December review the Obama administration is preparing to give an update on the U.S. troop increase Obama ordered a year ago to try to repulse a strengthened Taliban.

McCain, who is expected to visit Afghanistan soon, said he would like to see a change in Obama’s decision to begin withdrawing some U.S. troops from Afghanistan next August.

“I can only speak for myself, but this date for withdrawal that the president announced without any military advice or counsel has caused us enormous problems in our operations in Afghanistan, because our enemies are encouraged and our friends are confused over there,” he said.

McCain, who lost the presidential election to Obama in 2008, defeated a conservative challenger to his Senate re-election this year by embracing Tea Party principles.

“I hope that the president would get the message that the American people do not approve of his administration and its policies over the last two years and that we need to work out these problems and get our country moving again,” McCain said.

He also said he hopes the new Congress will focus on cutting government spending and banning individual spending projects, known as “earmarks”, that do not go through the regular appropriations process.

“I think the message of the Tea Party in this election is they want us to stop the spending and prohibit earmarks and repeal and replace Obamacare,” McCain said, referring to Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

Editing by Christopher Wilson