Sen. McCain: Obama should own 'abject failure' in Middle East during debate

BOCA RATON, Florida (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a top surrogate for Mitt Romney, unleashed some strong words against President Barack Obama on Monday, October 22nd hours before the presidential candidates face off in their final debate.

Asked if Romney should give Obama credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, McCain said he believes all American credit the president with the raid but added Obama should also take responsibility for "the abject failure throughout the Middle East."

"Al Qaeda is resurgent throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, all of North Africa, Libya, Mali. They're returning because we're weak," McCain said in the spin room at Lynn University, the site of Monday's debate in Boca Raton, Florida.

McCain's comments signaled Romney could take a similar line of attack during the presidential showdown and portray the unrest in the Middle East as a major failure for the president.

The 2008 Republican nominee said "everything is unraveling" in Iraq because of the president's policies, which included the final withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from the country late last year.

Obama's campaign, however, uses the troop drawdown as a selling point for the president on foreign policy. In a television ad released Monday, the campaign highlighted the decision, saying "it's time to stop fighting over there and start rebuilding here."

McCain, who's long been a vocal critic of the administration's handling of Syria, further blasted Obama for doing "absolutely nothing" to help protect citizens from the ongoing slaughter in the country.

"Just as many of us have predicted, it's beginning to spill over in to Lebanon, into Jordan, into the other countries in the region, and we are on the verge of a serious crisis," he said.

While Obama has spoken little about Syria, in August he warned the country against moving chemical or biological weapons, saying such force would cross a "red line" and "there would be enormous consequences" for Bashar al-Assad's regime.

McCain also questioned the president on Libya, saying the administration has failed to explain why it was not prepared for last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans.

"It's either absolute and total incompetence, or willfully deceiving the American people," McCain said. "How he thinks he can fool the American people on this one, I don't know."