LAKELAND, Fla. - Sen. John McCain joked Friday morning that the moderators of the Republican presidential debates are not only a part of the liberal media but also communists.
"They have turned into performances. I wish they hadn't," said McCain of the debates. "I wish that the moderators, and it's mostly liberal media as you know."
A member of the audience turned to the row of cameras stationed across from McCain and said, "Sorry, you guys."
"Communists, most of them," responded McCain, to chuckles in the room.
ABC News' Jake Tapper noted that in 1999 and 2000, McCain regularly referred to his traveling press corps as "socialists," "Bolsheviks," and "communists."
Throughout the day, McCain deplored the amount of debates this campaign cycle and the tenor each of them has cultivated. During a stop in The Villages, Fla., several audience members expressed discontent with the topics that the debate moderators have covered.
"When you talk to Mitt next time, you tell him to stay on the subjects people want to hear. We don't want bickering during the debate. I want to know what you're gonna do," said one audience member.
"I'll tell him, but Mitt's response will be he doesn't control the agenda. The moderators are controlling the agenda," said McCain. "I think I've had enough debates."
"I hope that those who do the questioning would understand what the American people want to hear about because they're making a judgment," McCain said later.