February 27th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
3 years ago

Obama and McCain trade barbs on Iraq

 McCain and Obama got into a back in forth over Iraq Wednesday.
McCain and Obama got into a back in forth over Iraq Wednesday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) – Presidential frontrunners Barack Obama and John McCain clashed over Iraq policy Wednesday, as the Illinois Democrat directed most of his criticism at the Arizona Republican – not his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton – during a campaign stop in this capital city six days before next week’s primary.

“John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq,” Obama said.

Earlier, McCain released a statement that attacked Obama for his comments at Tuesday’s debate that were critical of the Iraq war.

"Last night, we also heard Sen. Obama say that once he withdrew US forces from Iraq he would 'reserve the right' to act 'if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq,'” McCain said in the statement. “Is Sen. Obama unaware that Al Qaeda is still present in Iraq, that our forces are successfully fighting them every day, and that his Iraq policy of withdrawal would embolden Al Qaeda and weaken our security?

“Where is the audacity of hope when it comes to backing the success of our troops all the way to victory in Iraq? What we heard last night was the timidity of despair. Our allies deserve better, our soldiers deserve better, and so do the American people."

During his appearance at Ohio State University, Obama accused McCain of trying to score cheap political points.

“McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying 'Well, let me give you some news, Barack, al Qaida IS in Iraq,' like I wasn’t reading the papers, like I didn’t know what was going on. …”

“But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq… he took us into war along with George Bush that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.

Obama continued, “They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11, and that would be al Qaida in Afghanistan that is stronger now than at any time since 2001. I’ve been paying attention, John McCain! That’s the news. So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq…”

Obama’s appearance was one of his first forays to the Central Ohio city that lies at the heart of what has traditionally been one of the most hotly-contested general election battleground areas in this bellwether state.

On Wednesday, the Obama campaign also announced the endorsement of North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, and that the number of donors had surpassed one million.

– CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand and Chris Welch

soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Michael Bryan

    “McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying 'Well, let me give you some news, Barack, al Qaida IS in Iraq,' like I wasn’t reading the papers, like I didn’t know what was going on. …”

    Should have just left it at that... says it all.

    An experienced senior statesman and war veteran making a enlighted statement about a rabble rousing rookie.

    February 27, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. James

    Every sentence that comes out of McCain mouth is a NOUN, a VERB, and IRAQ. He has no idea how the economy works according to him. Wonder what else he would do

    February 27, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. JB Cali

    McCain needs to retire. He seems to be getting dementia.

    February 27, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. Bonnie from Maryland

    Let's hope there is a healthy debate between Obama and McCain about Iraq. We thought originally we elected a president with all the right answers about the war, but we were grossly misled and left scratching our heads and angry. Let's see if this healthy debate is only the beginning for the two best candidates for each party. It's not always the most 'experienced' candidate that does a better job. I think it requires a leader who can see the big picture. The next President of the United States should have the stamina and willingness to change the mistakes of the past.

    February 27, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. JJ

    I see Mcain is going to try the "I know all about forein policy, my opponent knows nothing" strategy. I like Mcain but make no mistake about it, he is a bit delusional about the situation in Iraq. Ok violence is down to 15 American deaths per month... Is that Acceptable?? The question needs to be What was our original purpose for invading Iraq?... Finding weapons right! We found none. Why are we continuing to follow this misguided, and bankrupt policy now? Mcain will try to make it about protecting America and having honor and glory... Gimme a break! Are we really protecting America by doing this or making more enemy's.

    February 27, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. One Helluva Texan

    Hmmmm... I don't remember Bush and McCain making that decision themselves. However, I do recall many Republicans AND Democrats making the determination for war after the intelligence reports were in. Was I just dreaming all that?

    I'll give Obama credit for one thing... his ability to oversimplify the Iraq War plays well with loony liberals, and he has convinced a lot of voters that McCain is just like Bush, even though Mac and W are as different as night and day. Of course, it ain't too hard to brainwash a bunch of robots...."change".... "yes we can".... "change".... "yes we can".... excellent work, Lord Obama.

    February 27, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. mobepooh

    In the story McCain says "our soldiers deserve better, and so do the American people." My question is, does he believe that the soldiers deserve to be in a war for reasons largely held as questionable both morally and logically? Also, do the American people deserve to have their young men and women dying all while the country is most likely less safe than before the war? How about the estimate of 18 million people losing their homes in the months to come, while we spend billions a month on this war. I guess thats what the American people deserve. We are after all the greatest nation in the world...

    February 27, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. NickNas

    LOL here we go! McCain didn't even listen to the debate. He was spoonfed what to say and he DID! Too LATE!! Obama NEVER SAID what McCain CLAIMED. A complete misquote.

    Just what we need ANOTHER Puppet who just does, says and SIGNS everything his " Handlers" tell him too.

    But how many people will CARE that it is all False? That is the Sad part.

    February 27, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. Tim T.

    Al Qaeda in Iraq. Yeh, like WMDs and yellow cake too? Al Qaeda was/is
    in Afghanistan and only went into Iraq after Bush invaded it. Are people
    blind? No, just Republican.

    February 27, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. Canadian Neighbour

    Mr. MCCain, enough of the war , let us give peace a chance ! Think about it !

    February 27, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. dmw

    Anytime anyone says anything about Obama he does not like, he always says someone is using cheap political tricks or something is racists. That excuse from Obama will only go so far. In the general he will get creamed by McCain.

    Obama uses the most cheap political tricks of anyone in this process. He knows nothing of substance, so his only way to get over on people is to talk in generalities and shout, 'cheap political tricks', ' I am the one to save the world', 'Yes, we can', ' Fired Up'...what a high schooler mentality and what is more interesting, sad and disappointing is that the liberals are buying it and can not get enough of it.

    February 27, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. James, Houston, TX.

    The Irony being that the Black Candidate has never worn an Ameican Uniform and the Other One gave Up Flag and Colors in Lieu of his Skin! 51/2 yrs at the "Hanoi Hilton", doesn't qualify this Turkey as Commander In Chief of American Troops !! Much less being President ! Obama, that sounds like something on Burnt Toast.
    Ralph Nader do you hear the Calling?

    February 27, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. Phillip, Memphis

    I was so sure, going into this campaign season, that there was NO way the Democrats could screw up and lose this election. Meanwhile, Clinton and Obama (and they are both just as responsible) have completely divided the party, continue to spit back and forth at each other, and John freaking McCain has a higher approval rating than either one of them. It looks like Obama will be the Dem candidate, and McCain is already schooling him, because what Obama said WAS stupid in or out of context.

    Could we please have an Edwards/Biden independent ticket? Please?

    February 27, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. Obamacan!

    We'll stay in Iraq for as long as we can, we will bomb Iran, pump more aid into Israel and borrow more money from China. And yes, we will also publicly wish that the leaders of China and Russia die. (All the while not knowing a thing about economics or money management).

    February 27, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. tomdavie

    Who is managing Obama. He keeps sticking his foot in it. Now he says he will strike Al queda? Now he says he will roar into pakistan?

    You guys at CNN, MSNBC, and others are REALLY going to have to roll up your sleeves and spin this one to save Obama.

    He says he wouldnt make 'bad judgments' .He says he will withdrawl from Iraq, but then turns around and argues he would go right back into Iraq and ELSEWHERE to do the exact same thing Bushie did in the first place????

    The underlying message is Obama is no different than the war mongers already in office.

    Thats ok. Im sure you guys in the media can SPIN the BELOVED Obama out of it.

    February 27, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Michael, Torrance, CA

    I have to agree with Obama in that the war in Iraq should never have been started. We all have that retard GW to thank for that. Many senators were lied to by the Bush administration so you can't hold McCain accountable for GW's stupidity and dishonesty. I also have to agree with McCain about having to finish the job in Iraq now that we're in there. Now that GW got us in there it has turned the lives of the people of Iraq upside down and we owe it to them at the very least to finish the job.

    February 27, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Buddy

    Good point we can fight Al Qaeda in Iraq or New York. I pick Iraq some Americans have a short memory.

    February 27, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. common sense in America

    pst! Obama... Don't look now but your inexperience is showing.

    February 27, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. Richard Campbell

    Keep messing around with McCain and our great great great grandchildren will be in Iraq fighting.

    February 27, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  20. Bob

    Isn't "embolden" a word that the Bush administration popularized? I don't like that word.

    February 27, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. Chris, SC.

    Amen Barack.!! McCain, and other Republicans, seem to have conveniently forgotten about the misinformation disseminated in the run up to the war in Iraq. It is going to be amusing as McCain tries to use his stance on the war as one of his selling points.

    February 27, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. mbs

    I am a Hillary supporter and hope she is elected president. But……. finally.........Obama’s grand speeches/promises are being challenged by McCain.

    The media and voters also need to do more research on Obama’s background and voting record in the Illinois senate and the US senate, now that he is the front-runner. DIG DEEP, ASK HARD QUESTIONS.

    If for some bizarre reason Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, more Republican attacks will follow. Will be a test just how strong Obama and his rhetoric are.

    Hillary is my first choice, McCain my second choice for president.

    February 27, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Len

    If Hillary is not the candidate why would democrats vote for John McCain whom wants to continue the war in Irag,has no real plan to improve the economy,no health care plan other than more of the same,no environmental policy,etc,etc,etc.McCain likes George Bush and believes he has been a good president. I suspect that the only possibe reason to vote for someone against all your beliefs is because the likely candidate is African American and/or the strong belief that experience trumps evrything else.Please explain??

    February 27, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. Oshiro

    Barack Obama's books "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" are worth reading. It's great to see a candidate like him!

    February 27, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. Kemic - Houston, Texas

    It's very interesting how delusional Republicans are about the war in Iraq. John McCain feels that if he says it, then it is so. What Senator Obama spoke about is obvious to the whole world. And yet Senator McCain takes this position that he's tough. 70% of America wants out of this poorly managed, ill-advised, trumped up "war on terrorism."

    February 27, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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