Former presidential candidate John McCain advocated veterans to support Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign.

The Arizona senator addressed the role of foreign policy and the military in the upcoming elections to a crowd of veterans and military families Tuesday morning. McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who lost to President Barack Obama, emphasized the importance of North Carolina, noting that it is one out of six or seven states that will determine this election.

He lost the battleground state to Obama in 2008 by about 14,000 votes.

“We must win North Carolina,” McCain said. “There are 800,000 veterans, family members, active duty and spouses in the state of North Carolina. That can more than make a difference in this upcoming election.”

McCain, joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., emphasized the need for a strong leader, touting Romney as a strong commander in chief. The two men, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized Obama’s foreign policy record.

Obama has inserted uncertainty and risk in terms of the nation’s security, McCain said. He noted the President’s recent gaffes in the handling of the assassination of Christopher Stevens, U.S. ambassador to Libya, and military withdrawal plans in Afghanistan.

The demise of Osama Bin Laden during Obama’s administration has earned him some points in terms of foreign policy, noted Rep. David Price, D-N.C., at a separate event.

But Graham disagreed with the idea that bin Laden’s death points to a successful foreign policy.

“Has it stopped people from coming after us?” he noted.

Graham, additionally, refuted Obama’s lack of leadership on addressing the impending defense cuts, slated to take effect with automatic sequestration in January 2013.

“If you want jobs back in North Carolina, you need to replace Obama,” McCain added. “Mitt is a strong contrast [to Obama] because he believes that we should lead.”

The stop in Cary was part of McCain’s tour of North Carolina to stump for the Romney-Ryan ticket.