Nightly News | April 22, 2011
>>> senator john mccain showed up in libya today. he went to the city of benghazi as a show of support for the rebels fighting gadhafi . our chief foreign correspondent richard engle with us tonight from benghazi . good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian. i think showed up is a good way to describe it. this was an unannounced and unexpected visit. we had heard rumors that senator mccain would be coming here, but we couldn't confirm it until we went downstairs in the lobby of the hotel and saw senator mccain standing there.
>>> senator, welcome to benghazi .
>> even the people of benghazi seemed surprised to see senator mccain in town.
>> how are you?
>> he arrived unannounced with a tiny aunt rog and almost no security. he toured downtown benghazi and looked at rebels killed fighting bengha gadhafi , men he called his heroes. as word spread of mccain 's arrival, american flags were brought out along with signs praising the united states . but speaking to.
>> announcer: news, senator mccain was critical of president obama and the nato mission here, calling it contradictory.
>> the policy is that gadhafi must go, but the president said it would be a mistake to use force. i believe that gadhafi should go, and i believe that a stalemate would lead to serious consequences, including the possibility of the rise of the influence of radical extremists in whatever happens.
>> reporter: mccain also said the united states should immediately recognize the opposition government in benghazi and release some of gadhafi 's frozen assets to the rebels and help them obtain heavy weapons. but in baghdad today, the u.s. military 's top commander was equally blunt about that.
>> the united states ' position with respect to arming the rebels is very clear, and we're not -- there's been no decision to do that, so right now, that's not going to happen.
>> reporter: mccain 's message was extremely popular here in benghazi , but it remains unclear if nato allies or the obama administration are as willing to embrace the rebels as closely as the senator would like. the white house said it is not willing to recognize the opposition government here in benghazi . a white house spokesman said it's up to the libyan people to determine their own political future.
>> richard engle in benghazi , libya, covering the fight and the visiting american there. thanks.