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McCain scoffs at Cruz's claims on gun rights advocacy

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol February 5, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee, Getty Images

Last Updated Apr 21, 2015 1:32 PM EDT

If Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz pressed Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, to hold hearings about whether soldiers should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on military bases, he didn't do a great job of communicating the message, according to McCain.

"I was fascinated to hear that because I haven't heard a thing about it from him. Nor has my staff heard from his staff," McCain said, according to Politico. "It came as a complete surprise to me that he had been pressing me. Maybe it was some medium that I'm not familiar with."

Among the ways McCain suggested Cruz might have been "pressing" him on the issue -- which is what Cruz told some New Hampshire voters and gun owners -- is by "hand telegraph," "sign language" or bouncing messages off the "ozone layer."

"Ask him how he communicated with me because I'd be very interested," McCain said.

Cruz's office told Politico that he has been talking about the issue "for a long time" in hearings and sent a letter to McCain's predecessor at the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, former Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, requesting formal hearings. A similar letter to McCain is forthcoming.

But on Tuesday, Cruz said he "may have misspoken" when he told voters he had lobbied McCain about the hearing.

"John McCain is the new chairman of it, so I sent a letter to the previous chairman," he said in an interview on Fox News.

Though they technically come from the same party, Cruz and McCain have a contentious relationship. McCain once called Cruz a "wacko bird" for his positions during the 2013 government shutdown (a term Cruz said he wears proudly if that's the label for someone who stands for the Constitution).

As for the issue of concealed carry on military bases, McCain isn't necessarily opposed to holding hearings -- just Cruz's suggestion that he was already pushing for them.

"I'll be glad to discuss the issue and see if we need hearings," he said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.