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US Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, speaks on US border security and immigration policies for undocumented immigrants along the southern US border during a US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) US Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, speaks on US border security and immigration policies for undocumented immigrants along the southern US border during a US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)  

John McCain Was Criticized When He Said ‘Gates Of Hell’

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Vice President Joe Biden’s pledge Wednesday to follow ISIS to the “gates of hell” is reminiscent of comments made by John McCain in 2007, which led to criticism that the Republican had gone too far.

Speaking about the recent beheadings of American journalists by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Biden said Wednesday, “We will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.”

McCain, when running for president in 2007, came under attack from opponents after using similar language about Osama bin Laden.

“We will do whatever is necessary,” McCain said in a Republican primary debate. “We will track him down. We will catch him. We will bring him to justice and I’ll follow him to the gates of hell.”

McCain flashed a smile after his comments, leading ABC News at the time to question whether he “viewed his own answer as being over the top.”

During the campaign, Jim Harper of CATO criticized McCain for the quote.

“McCain’s ‘gates of hell’ talk is leadership malpractice, and he should stop using it immediately… Speaking this way about terrorism thrills our terrorist enemies and draws recruits and support to them. Silence would be much better, presidential campaign or no,” he wrote.

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