(CNN) — Sen. John McCain, who lost in 2008 to the first African-American elected to the White House, said President Barack Obama’s speech about race relations was “very impressive” and agreed that “stand your ground” laws should be re-examined, including those in his own state of Arizona.
“The ‘stand your ground’ law may be something that may needs to be reviewed by the Florida legislature or any other legislature that has passed such legislation,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Arizona is one of 30 states that have such laws, which give individuals certain legal rights in cases of self-defense. The law in Florida has come under scrutiny recently during the trial of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin last year during a confrontation.
Asked if he thinks Arizona should review the law, McCain said: “Yes, I do.”
“And I’m confident that the members of the Arizona legislature will, because it is very controversial legislation,” he told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.
McCain said he didn’t agree with fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who argued Friday the Obama administration is calling for a review of “stand your ground” laws as a way to further its agenda against Second Amendment rights.
“Isn’t it time for America to come together?” McCain asked. “I’d rather have a message of coming together and discussing these issues rather than condemning.
“I respect (Cruz’s) view, but I don’t frankly see the connection,” he added.
Protesters stand up to ‘stand your ground,’ but laws likely here to stay
McCain said that while American society has made progress on racial issues, the recent tensions over the Trayvon Martin case have “highlighted the differences that remain.”
“What I got out of the president’s statement, which I thought was very impressive, is that we need to have more conversation in America,” he said. “I need to talk to more of my Hispanic organizations in my state. I need to talk to more African-American organizations.”
The longtime senator pointed to the economic disparities between African-Americans and other demographic groups, citing the city of Detroit, which he called a “wasteland,” as an example.
“What’s the majority of the population in the city of Detroit? Who suffers the most? Obviously we know the answer,” he said of the city that filed for bankruptcy last week.
The main point that can be drawn from the president’s speech on Friday, McCain said, was that “we’ve still got a long way to go.”
“And I think the president very appropriately highlighted a lot of that…as only the president of the United States can,” he said.
By Ashley Killough