September 3rd, 2007
05:03 PM ET
9 years ago

McCain on Iraq: 'I will fight against a date for surrender'

Arizona Sen. John McCain was "glad" that President Bush visited Iraq on Labor Day

NEOLA, Iowa (CNN) - Speaking with reporters at a parade in Iowa on Monday, Republican presidential candidate John McCain reiterated his belief that the current strategy in Iraq is working, saying that to withdraw is to surrender.

"I will fight against a date for surrender," said the Arizona senator. "I will fight against what the Democrats are trying to do. And I think it will be a seminal debate that will determine the history of this country for the rest of this century, because if we set a date for withdrawal we will see chaos, we will see genocide, and they will follow us home."

McCain continued, "To set a date for withdrawal is to set a date for surrender."

He stressed that he never said the road wouldn't be long and hard, but said things are "much tougher because of [former Secretary of Defense] Rumsfeld's absolute strategic failures."

Regarding an upcoming progress report set to be released by General David Petraeus in mid-September McCain said, "We will have a great debate on the floor of the Senate. I will be leading the Republicans because I'm the ranking Republican, [the] senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee. I will fight to let this strategy continue to succeed."

One of the big stories of the day: President Bush's surprise visit to Iraq. McCain said he was "glad" to see him make the trip.

"Six months ago, it would not have been possible for him to go to that part of Iraq," said McCain. "It was a free-fire zone, and now Anbar province is one of the most stable parts of Iraq, thanks to the success of this strategy."

"I am fully aware that this may cost me politically. It's far more important to me that we convince a significant number of the American people that this strategy is succeeding."

–CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Related: Bush visits Iraq

Related: McCain to focus on Iraq in September

Filed under: Iowa • Iraq • John McCain
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Steve, Swansboro, NC

    Rumor that Rice, after 2 years, is about ready to declare peace with the Amish. We have to give up some of our best trotters though. John may have to get over to state quickly.

    September 3, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Grand Junction, CO

    "I am fully aware that this may cost me politically. It's far more important to me that we convince a significant number of the American people that this strategy is succeeding."

    Good for you, Senator McCain.

    September 3, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. Patrick, Cincinnati,OH

    Shows why this old coot will never be President.

    September 3, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  4. Aaron Kinney, Sherman Oaks CA

    Thank goodness that nobody cares whatsoever about what McCain thinks anymore! Time to take that old hoss out to pasture.

    September 3, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Eyckie, Toronto, Ontario

    Just more of the same and McCain blew it big time. There are more Republicans in the closet about their desent of the Iraq war so I can't imagine who McCain is campaigning to. Republicans are distancing themselves from Bush and his policies and McCain is looking like he's just a deaf as Bush. John McCain was the 'other' Republican that I liked, the only one I ever liked until 3 year ago was Reagan. I think Republicans are corrupt, self-righteous and bigotted. McCain had a lot of POW impact initially but once he started supporting this war the bank foreclosed. He's toast and he has no money left.

    September 3, 2007 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  6. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
    A vote for McCain would be a vote for a Bush clone, and welcoming the same old same old policy it seems.

    September 3, 2007 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  7. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Accomplishment in Iraq was gained with the arrest of Saddam; success is now gained with those of humanity aiding to destroy the 'present zone of war once labeled Iraq' and to heal and prevent the wounds caused or found in the aftermath.

    September 3, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  8. Esther, Naples FL

    He should abandon his campaign and write a book about how it all failed. Thanks for nothing John.

    September 3, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  9. Jon, New york, NY

    Hey you guys, don't be so mean to John McCain, he could be reading this right now! From the straight talk express, no less! Which, this week, is a Ford Taurus provided by one of John's more elderly supporters, she even offered to pay for gas after John cried a little. He said he still pays the tolls though. Good man.

    September 3, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  10. douglas marcus sewell, nj

    if mccain had not wasted his political capital on the immigration debate, then he would be in a stronger position. he is about as much a straight shooter that we have in the senate, not afraid to make a stand, appears to be willing to accomodate when necessary but resolute when it matters, then all those running. why are so much of the gop enamored w/ sen. thompson who has a record of what? mitt romney & rudy giulani are able but for some reason i have more confidence in mccain than either of them.

    September 4, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. Faith, Vienna, Austria.

    If Anber province is stable as always been claimed, why then all this suprise visit without even the knowledge of the Generals on the ground. Who are you fooling.

    September 4, 2007 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  12. Peter. Vienna, Austria.

    Recently the visiting Senators plane was fired on. And later on late edition, one of the senator stated the group walked in Anber province under the protection of a Platoon of Mariens. The most stable part of Iraq. Keep fooling yourself John.

    September 4, 2007 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  13. Jessica, Seattle, WA

    John McCain is the only Republican running (or who has run in recent history) with any ethics or integrity what-so-ever. This is not to suggest that Democrats are morally superior; it's just that the Republican party, who claims to be morally superior, has become so sleezy. McCain has proved himself right time and time again, even when he knew it wasn't popular opinion and even when it would cost him votes and if your paying attention, you'll notice Iraq is no exception. Although I do not think the majority of today's Republicans give one ioda about ethics, honesty, integrity, or getting along and reaching compromises with those of differing opinions, McCain's got my vote in the primary just the same. He has an uncanny ability to see all sides of an issue, and doesn't demonize persons who disagree with him. Like most moderates, McCain is the only Republican I'd vote for. If he doesn't get through the primary (and it's not looking good), I'll vote for whomever wins the Democratic election, which at this point, will almost certainly be Hillary.

    September 4, 2007 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  14. S, Orlando, FL

    Drop out already and quit wasting everyone's time, John. You've reduced yourself to a joke.

    September 4, 2007 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  15. Mary, Beaver, PA

    This man is a war hero. He's also a lunatic.

    September 4, 2007 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  16. Jack Jett

    In my mind, his surrender has already happened.

    He almost makes Ralph Nader look sane.

    jack jett

    September 4, 2007 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  17. WDRussell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    What a campaign agenda.
    I am a Bush clone, vote for me.
    Like that will give him a chance.

    September 4, 2007 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. A Christian, Chicago IL

    Compare the quotes posted the same day on

    "Asked his plans after retiring next month,(Gen. Peter) Pace told the troops (in Iraq), 'I have a day job. I’m going to run to the finish line in 1 October because you deserve to have me still focused on my responsibilities. On 2 October, I’ll start thinking about what I’ll do next.' Pace said that while he may have some idea what he may want, 'I do know any time I spend thinking about what happens next is time I’m taking away from you, and I’m not going to do that.'"

    Next, the sad sack "crying" his way out of the White House:

    "After he leaves office, President Bush is quoted...he wants to make some money to 'replenish the ol' coffers,' noting he can make 'ridiculous' money on the lecture circuit. 'I don't know what my dad gets. But it's more than 50, 75 [thousand] … Clinton's making a lot of money,'"

    Failed oilman bailed out by Daddy's pals, failed president bailed by non-impeaching House, failed speaker to be bailed by his ultra-rich corporate patrons. How can this shameful and shameless guy even face our troops in these grandstanding Iraq trips?

    September 4, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. fedupwithourgov't

    If you want more of the same vote for McCain!

    No thanks! You'd be ANOTHER disaster for this country!

    September 4, 2007 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. Michael W, Orlando FL

    After reading all the other blogs that obviously support surrender and attacked Senator McCain as well as the standard Bush haters, I have to ask: Will your anti-war Democratic President take full responsibility for the death and mayhem that will occur in Iraq? As liberals profess their devoted love for peace and fairness, how will they sleep at night knowing that their selfishness and cowardice have caused countless Iraqis to suffer and/or die after the surrender is complete? Bush won't be around to blame then. More liberal hypocrisy!

    September 4, 2007 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  21. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa


    1. Get thee to a museum
    2. Sign a long-term lease

    September 4, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. elmerg colorado

    "If elected, I promise everyone three rugs for three dollars, the catch is you have to have a batallion of marines watching your back during the negotiations..."

    September 4, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    Why does a guy who suffered as a P.O.W wants our present soldiers to suffer? Why does he support a war against a faceless enemy in a country that never did a single thing to us? Does the U.S constitution still mean anything?

    September 5, 2007 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  24. Deen

    John McCain brags that he is supported by the liberal media while the GOP political machine pulls out all stops to sway and control the nomination process in his favor. What are they so afraid of? That millions of conservative republicans will actually have the option of voting with their party this year rather than having to look outside for a candidate?

    January 31, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |