September 12th, 2007
06:15 PM ET
7 years ago

McCain defends Petraeus, criticizes Clinton

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. John McCain continued to voice strong support for Gen. David Petraeus Wednesday, saying he is "respected and admired by literally everybody that serves under him." As for Sen. Hillary Clinton, well, he had other thoughts on his mind.

At a campaign stop in Des Moines, the Arizona Republican said the general is an "honorable and decent man who spent his entire life in the service of his nation."

But McCain, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, chose different words to describe Clinton, a New York Democrat who is seeking her party's presidential nomination.

"Senator Clinton said that General Petraeus in his presentation was... I quote a 'willing suspension of disbelief," McCain said. "First of all, it's a willing suspension of disbelief that Senator Clinton thinks she knows more than General Petraeus does about events on the ground in Iraq."

The Arizona senator also issued a sharply worded statement directed at Clinton for not renouncing a critical print ad of Petraeus that was paid for by the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org.

"Senator Clinton said that believing General Petraeus' testimony requires a 'willing suspension of disbelief,'" McCain said in the statement released by his campaign. "I think it willingly suspends disbelief to not repudiate an advertisement run by a radical left wing organization that impugns and dishonors the integrity of a man who has served his nation with dedication all of his life."

The full page was published in Monday’s edition of the New York Times and showed a picture of Petraeus with the caption "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"

McCain's criticism of Clinton is not surprising as he entered his second day of his "No Surrender" tour. "We should not choose to lose in Iraq," McCain said in Iowa. "We cannot set a date for surrender, which would be a date for withdrawal from Iraq."

– CNN's Chris Welch in Iowa and CNN's Xuan Thai in Washington


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iowa • John McCain
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Henry Tucker, GA

    Senator McCain, you have the experience and credentials to speak on the matter of General Petreaus. Hillary is a shell of a candidate, speaking and acting only to garner whatever votes she can pander.

    A vote for Hillary = a vote to lose.

    September 12, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. RG, Oakland, CA

    Does anyone care what no-brain McCain has to say at this point? Apparently not since this is the first comment. Like McCain and his fraudulent lovely stroll through an Iraq market while snipers and helicopters protected him off camera has any right to criticize Clinton's comments about suspending disbelief. Taking McCain seriously requires the same willing suspension.

    September 12, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  3. H. Shim, Tustin, California

    I agree Senator McCain's statement.
    Senator Clinton overacted against our faithful General Petraeus viciously.
    We should not choose to give up the peaceful victory in Iraq.
    Please respect and listen to the field General's opinions about war affairs.

    September 12, 2007 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. Ray, Rochester

    A real "willing suspension of disbelief" is Hillary saying she had no idea Norman Hsu was a felon on the run. Yeah right.

    Do any of you Hillay lovers honestly think this cold and calculating woman did not know everything about Hsu...a man who gave her close to One Million dollars over the years? Please.

    She knew Hsu inside and out and willingly took his money because she cares nothing about truth and accountability. She only cares about winning the election. That's why she ran for senate in New York. She knew this liberal state gave her the best shot to run for president later.

    Hillary cares nothing about the residents of New York. She is a worthless hypocrite.

    Kick her butt John!!

    September 12, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. Christian, Tampa FL

    The Republican political strategy for the 2008 election is insane. Why constantly criticize people who have the same point of view as the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of the American people when it comes to the war? A majority of Americans didn't even believe that Petraeus would be completely objective even before the testimony began.

    September 12, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. Chip Celina OH

    I watched a good portion of General Petraeus' testimony. He has an incredible command of the factional positions (Sunni/Shia/Kurd/AQI/other insurgents) in each region of Iraq. He also has in-depth knowledge of many personalities operating 'in-theatre'. He understands that one solution that may work in Anbar may not be transportable to other provinces. Congress would do well to listen to his great insight and respect his knowledge as a resource that it could use to come together and form a workable solution to the situation the country finds itself in. Anyone listening closely (or at least giving him a chance to speak) would see he advocates that the Iraqi parliament needs to get off the dime, that the final solution stands with the Iraqis.

    Instead, they use it to grandstand and lecture party line talking points and not leave their minds open to how we could leverage his knowledge to a beneficial end.

    Barbara Boxer epitomized the circus. She went on a rant that used ALL of her time and then asked the general to respond in writing to some baseless dumbwitted question she blurted out at the end.

    The Republicans were really no better, tossing softball questions and making him feel at home. It was definitley cordial, but they were (mostly) trying to get him to back their position with his answers.

    No wonder their approval rating is dismal!

    Regards,

    September 12, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. St Louis MO

    Let the republicans have there war. Let them have there wild dreams. All the democrats need to do is make sure the truth that democrats dont have enuf power in senate to stop repulican sentors and the president. Then when election day is here. we will see a more powerfull repeat of the 1984 election. except all the states will be blue and all 22 republican senetors be looking for a new job. That be a real nice reality check to wake em out of their blind faith stay the course america behind us fanticies.

    September 12, 2007 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  8. Daniel SLC UT

    Looks the Republicans are scared!!!

    Hahahaha

    GO HILLARY!!! 2009 can't come fast enough.

    Also why do the same people get on her to attack Hillary? Get a life.

    September 12, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. Bill Bothm Terrace, BC

    I am a lifelong Republican, US Navy veteran, and worker for McCain in 2000. I agree with the Senator that the MoveOn ad was contemptible.

    It is just as bad as the attacks by the Bush campaign on Senator McCain in 2000, against Max Cleland, and against John Kerry. I would put Michael Moore's propaganda in the same category.

    These slanderous attacks on individual character of which both sides have been guilty wound our national polity. I agree with Senator McCain that Senator Clinton and all other candidates should condemn such tactics.

    I disagree with the Senator and Mayor Giuliani in their condemnation of Senator Clinton's remarks to General Petraeus. If Senator Clinton doesn't have enough information to make intelligent criticisms of the General's presentation, that is a problem that needs to be fixed. The General's presentation is, however, open to question. His optimism is not shared by many outside of the Administration. In fact, even Ambassador Crocker's presentation seemed to belie the General's optimism.

    In short, while it is wrong to malign anyone's character, it is perfectly reasonable to question the reasonableness of the General's report. This is especially true given this Administration's past lack of veracity.

    September 12, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Alan St. Louis MO

    How to crush the republican party.
    Let the republicans have there war. Let them have there wild dreams. All the democrats need to do is make sure the truth that democrats dont have enuf power in senate to stop repulican sentors and the president. Then when election day is here. we will see a more powerfull repeat of the 1984 election. except all the states will be blue and all 22 republican senetors be looking for a new job. That be a real nice reality check to wake em out of their blind faith stay the course america behind us fanticies. Then We can begin to work on the real threats to america that will displace millions or even kill millions IE GLOBAL WARMING watch a real movie based by only facts that no sciencetist disputes uncoinvient truth. (my spelling sux, the heat in Iraq fring my brane)God Bless America

    September 12, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. Alan St Louis MO

    Let the republicans have there war. Let them have there wild dreams. All the democrats need to do is make sure the truth that democrats dont have enuf power in senate to stop repulican sentors and the president. Then when election day is here. we will see a more powerfull repeat of the 1984 election. except all the states will be blue and all 22 republican senetors be looking for a new job. That be a real nice reality check to wake em out of their blind faith stay the course america behind us fanticies.

    September 12, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  12. Bobbie, Fairfax VA

    All but calling the general a liar is just another example of how little respect Senator Clinton has for members of the American military services. It is very consistent with her insistence as First Lady that military staffers in her presence wear civilian clothes instead of their military uniforms. Military members and their families have gotten a pretty clear picture over the years of how little respect she has for the honor of the American soldier/airman/Marine. God save us from such a Commander in Chief.

    September 12, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Petraeus stated that he could not predict the outcome in Iraq.That should have been accompanied with his resignation!His utter failure to foresee the consequences of his own campaign is a reason to dismiss him entirely.What kind of fool listens to a presentation of fact coupled with a statement of ignorance like that and comes away with a good impression?McCain supporting him shows what a fool he is.The military leaders are not to promote the political agenda of a few right-wing nuts.Their job is to fight wars,not perpetuate them at the expense of both our country and theirs.The taxpayer's dime is not the allowance of destruction for the pentagon.Not to mention the trillions of dollars we borrowed from china to pay for it.I don't think there's much chance to nationalize the red's personal assets to pay that off.Maybe we can settle for a red state,like Kansas.

    September 12, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  14. Raymond, El Paso TX

    Ray, Rochester ~ "Do any of you Hillay lovers honestly think this cold and calculating woman did not know everything about Hsu…a man who gave her close to One Million dollars over the years? Please."

    ...as opposed to the millions Jack Abramoff dontated to the Republicans, some still in office? Please.

    September 12, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  15. Ted, Naperville IL

    I find it disturbing that McCain and Guilani find it appropriate to blame Hillary Clinton for moveon.org's ad. Did the Republican's condemn the Swift Boat veterans that jumped all over Kerry in the last election? No they did not. So they are getting what they gave or did not give. Too bad.

    September 12, 2007 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  16. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    I love how the dems attack the commander and ambassador who are actually there on the ground in Iraq, witnessing events first hand. Who's got a better handle on the issues, the people who see it for themselves or those who see it covered by the liberal media? Plain and simple – Hillary Clinton does not want Iraq to go well. If she makes it seem good, then there goes her chance to seize power by tricking voters.

    September 12, 2007 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  17. Ron Nord Hemet Ca.

    After the McCain song bomb bomb bomb...bomb bomb...Iran....who cares what this moron says...his campain is over...

    September 12, 2007 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  18. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Shim and Ray, I watched testimony two days. General's report is for Bush, there's no any progress in Iraq, what did all of Generals did over 5 years, Bush put the new commander and said we need the time, that time kills more our young soldiers, 2008 Summer, that time is just for Bush to finish his term and leaves all of mess to the next President. Bush is chicken and scared now, so used new General to play B-C's game. Hillary Clinton did right thing for Americans, she is the only one strong person to tell the truth to Republican. Rudy and McCain have no brain at all so they are dull headed.

    September 12, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  19. greg white, remington virginia

    tis war is wrong and unjust mccain wake up and smell the coffee!!!! this is the reason your political campain support is going down the tubes because you still hold a firm stance on the iraq issue, all we hear about every day is how bad the war is in iraq, its time to bring the innocent troops home to where they need to be!!! and time for innocent iraqis to stop dying because we are there for no cause!!!!!!!!! i am canadian american and i can personally tell you the world support for this war really never existed!!!!! and its time to end it and yes run because if america runs from and cuts its losses than maybe it will possibly regain some respect from the world point of view again.

    September 13, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  20. Andrew, Jakarta, Indonesia

    Hillary has good reason to believe she is being lied to by the ranking military. Take the last Commander-in-Chief for example. But she needs to understand that, unlike him, the majority of the chain of command consists of men and women of the highest integrity, dedicated to serving their country, and appointed to their position on merit.

    September 13, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  21. Dan, Champaign, Illinois

    This whole thing about "denouncing" that ad is ridiculous. What are they supposed to say? This is freaking America. That ad has every right to be published, and the Republicans that demand Democrats to apologize for it are only bolstering its credibility and magnifiying its influence. its the same thing they do with al Quada, making it seem like more of a threat just to scare the American people.

    Clinton was right to suspend disbelief. As appointees of this President, Petraeus and Crocker merely said things that the President would want to hear and used the reduction of troops as some marker of success even though with current troop tours were going to require about that many to go home around March anyway. The whole thing was a joke, and I'm glad good Senators like Barack Obama and Joe Biden are standing up against this charade.

    September 13, 2007 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  22. Lyons Steve

    Yawn.

    Who cares, John. You're completely irrelevant.

    Go shine Bush's shoes.

    What a styrofoam nothing you've become.

    September 13, 2007 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  23. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Agreeing with John McCain & General Petraeus on Iraq definitely require a "willing suspension of disbelief." They wear color glasses or bury their heads in sand. The following two incidents show that McCain is in denial of the Iraq situation:

    1) On March 28, 2007, McCain claimed that "General Petraeus goes out [in Baghdad] almost every day in an unarmed humvee". On March 29, CNN's John Roberts revealed the results of his investigation into this claim, "I checked with General Petraeus’s people overnight and they said he never goes out in anything less than an up-armored humvee.” On the same day, McCain also claimed that "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today... The US is beginning to succeed in Iraq." Barry McCaffrey, on the same day, issued a report saying, “... no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter could walk the streets of Baghdad without heavily armed protection”.

    2) On April 1, 2007, McCain and other lawmakers visited a Baghdad market and claimed that "things are better and there are encouraging signs". However, the visit was accompanied by enormous security measures, as McCain wore a bullet-proof vest, and was surrounded by more than 100 troops and escorted by attack helicopters. The day after McCain's visit, 21 workers and children from the market were murdered.

    September 13, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  24. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Thanks, Chip of Celina, OH, for an objective and thoughtful analysis. Can anyone say anything about Iraq and not have it politicized?

    September 13, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. Pat, Huntington, NY

    Clinton is right. Betray-us has cooked the books on Iraq to make it appear better that it really is. And the so called 30K troop draw down for next summer was already pre-planned, and has nothing to do with so called progress in Iraq. She's right in calling him out on this. And rethuglicans should bow their heads in shame.

    September 13, 2007 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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