June 12th, 2008
08:00 AM ET
3 years ago

McCain 'pleasantly surprised' by Iraqi leader

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) - Sen. John McCain said Wednesday that he is "pleasantly surprised" that the Iraqi prime minister "is now behaving like a leader."

The presumptive Republican nominee for president told about 450 supporters at a Boston fund-raiser that the Iraqi government has made notable progress in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. The Iraqi military, supported by U.S. troops, has launched major offensives in those cities to wrest control from militants.

"That was the whole idea behind the surge," he said. "Go in, hold, clear, establish order and then have the Iraqi military and government take over. And then we can withdraw and then we can come home in victory with honor, not in defeat."

McCain has criticized his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, for proposing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

McCain spoke at an event that his campaign said raised about $2 million.

One of his former rivals for the GOP nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, praised McCain as a "great leader."


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Chris from NY

    If the Iraqis and their leader are making progress, why do we need to stay or even have that many soldiers in Iraq? It will be nice if our soldiers came home since things have considerably changed in Iraq. More so, we need to step up our efforts in Afghanistan. We have forgotten what happened to Russian soldiers in Afghanistan at a time. Not that such will happen to ours and NATO troops in Afghanistan but that we shouldn't even let it happen. But if things keep going the way it is in Afghanistan, I hate to think what will happen down the road.

    June 12, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. George

    He is acting like an "independent leader", particularly when he cavorts with his Iran counterpart, much to the chagrin of the Bush administration. I am still waiting to see MCain in Iraq outside of the Green Zone and U.S.Military installations. It is naive and arrogant to ever think that America can have more influence in a Shiite led Iraq than Iran will.

    June 12, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. indy dem

    So it was your plan all along to install a shiite government in Iraq and then be suprised when he had kisses and security deals with the shiite cleric in charge of iran? brilliant. McCain yer a MORON

    June 12, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. A CANUCK

    Sounds like a flipflop to me !!!!!! What happened to "don't speak with your enemies" and the "hundred years"?????

    June 12, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. James CA

    McCain has no say on Iraq anyways. He wants long term bases on Iraqi soil. But guess what! The UN mandate for American troops in Iraq runs out at the end of 2008 and Iraqi's have a say on the future troop levels. Powerful Iraq leaders are now speaking out saying they don't care for having American troops in their country in 2009 and some worry if the prospect of permanent bases is pushed on them like McCain is proposing the rebel ranks will swell, our current backers will be overun, and troops will be stuck in a much more dangerous situation than they'd ever been in. McCain should know when to keep his mouth shut.

    June 12, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Mark

    The Iraqui leader WANTS the US to have a TIMETABLE for retreat – why don't you talk about that McCain?

    June 12, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. charles

    ls he surprised that the lraqi leader is meeting with lran freely. thats wat l call victory . A true leader who is not afraid to talk with his enemies. now thats victory.

    June 12, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. Cyrus - NY

    Way to suck up Romney!!

    June 12, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Moron McCain

    Lead us to Victory in Iraq just like you did waaaaaaaaaaaay back in Vietnam.

    First: Define "Victory" for us Gramp. What exactly is there to WIN in Iraq...? You mentor Bush said, "A peeance, freeance Iraq". Perhaps you could expand on Bush's vision a little?

    June 12, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. jim

    is this the same mitt romney who constantly talked down to mccain during the primary? now he's mccain's lapdog in hopes that a VP job opening is in the works. mitt romney is the biggest tool i've seen in my voting lifetime. please end this country's long history of voting in complete tool jobs like mitt.

    June 12, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. David

    Is John McCain pleasantly surprised that gasoline in America where someone need to remind him he is running for President is $4.00 plus a gallon. Is he pleasantly surprised that 47 million Americans don't have health care. Is he pleasantly surprise that our economy is in serious trouble while billions of our taxs dollars each month is being spent in Iraq. Someone need to remind John McCain that it is important that our soliders who is fighting this never ending war and their familes do care when they can come home. And someone needs to remind this old man that it is important to give our soliders an affordable education and proper benifits so they can take care of their families when Obama is President and bring them home.

    Maybe he needs to go run for President in Iraq since he cares so much about the people in Iraq. Or maybe he is having one of his momemts and believes he is running for President in Iraq. John McCain is a JOKE, AND A OLD JOKER!

    June 12, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. Ryan

    Umm, Iraq is our ally at the moment. Additionally, McCain never said 100 years of war, he said he could see American having a presence in Iraq for 100 years, along the lines of our continued military presence in Japan, Korea, and Germany, as long as there are no casualties. He's said it again and again, and the 100 years comment has been proven a flat out lie by factcheck.org as well as several major media outlets.

    June 12, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. jim

    did john mccain veto any more beer during this "straight talk town hall my friends my friends" event? americans will need a lot more than a beer if this old dingbat gets elected. we'll be drowning our sorrows for four more years of being Bushwhacked... read up on Keating Five, Vicki Iseman, Donald Diamond, McCain's voting record against veterans.

    June 12, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Jack Strop

    That's truly intelligent, Canuck. Keep the stick on the ice, eh?

    June 12, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. Tina candid observer

    You are a confused old man, speaking from both sides of your mouth and Mitt Romney agrees with everything you say with his eyes on VP post. What a pity.

    June 12, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. mayahh

    tongue twister, 'I don't recall. Bring our soldiers home, who cares if he leads his people or not. Not to worry, it will soon be over, Senator OBAMA can , and yes he will bring, them home ALIVE> AN END TO IRAQ'S WAR.

    June 12, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Alanna

    So by what he's saying, we can get out troops out now?

    Mccain you're crazy.

    June 12, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. Canada for obama

    DREAM ON ,MR MCREALLY. SOLVE AMERICA PROBLEM FIRST,NOT IRAQ'S. FIRST PUT YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER.

    June 12, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. beverly

    ROMNEY PRAISE MCCAIN AS A GREAT LEADER, THERE BOTH IN A SINKING SHIP BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER, I ASK MITT ROMNEY HOW COME NONE OF YOUR SONS ARE IN IRAQ, YOU BELEIVE IN THIS WAR IT WOULD BE THE HONORABLE THING TO DO IF A FEW OF YOUR SONS ENLIST THERE NO BETTER THAN ANY OF THE OTHER SOLDIERS THATS PUTTING THERE LIFE ON THE LINE. ARE THEY TO RICH TO SERVE THERE COUNTRY. WOULD SOMEONE IN THE ROMNEY FAMILY ANSWER THAT QUESTION ? WOULD YA PLEASE

    June 12, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. Annette

    I guess this is part of the straight crap express.

    June 12, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. American

    Canuck – why don't you worry about your socialist country? Oh right, it wouldn't even make a decent state so your obsessed with US.

    By the way, the 100 years comment is something you can't understand. It was not 100 years of war.

    June 12, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  22. Jeanne

    He makes it sound so simple..........."go in and establish order".

    What have we been trying to do for the last 6 years ?

    What happens if the Iraqi Military and Government fail to sustain "order" even if we are able to "establish order?"

    More US Troops ????

    June 12, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. COL.{retd]A.M.Khajawall

    Dear American Voters,

    Hon. Senator McCain and Obama, besides each having many attributes and characteristics. The critical differences between the two of these presidential presumptive nominees are as under:

    1. Presidential "Temperament and Composer".
    2. Little Washington "insider Versus outsider" experience.
    3. "Vision and mission" for our nation future rather than past.
    4. American policies, " first U.S.A Centric" than any other country [ ies ] centric.

    In my professional opinion Senator Obama leads in all above qualities.

    The need of our next movement and generation is a change. The Change in " past Washington and its Leadership". A change we can believe in and not the seductive, deceptive, and confusing slogan of "leader we can believe in" [? Effexor ?".

    Our Greatgrand Nation has to address many present and future challenges and start with new clean "Slate and Senator".

    God Bless America. its diverse people, and our Greatgrand Nation.

    Our Greatgrand Nation is needs the CHANGE at every level and for long time.

    I am sure Senator Obama with the help of Senator Clinton and her supporters, can deliver that CHANGE.

    Please stay involved, stay engaged, and stay informed. Please do not allow any seduction, deception, and or confusion by some partisan media and leaders effect your vote [ Psychological Terrorism ]..

    Yours truly,

    COL. [retd] A.M.Khajawall
    Disabled American Veteran
    Forensic psychiatrist, Las Vegas

    PS: It hard not to admit that Hon. McCain does not have calibre, composer, and "Presidential Temperament and Togetherness " to lead our country during our current complex and critical challenges.

    June 12, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. Neal Klomp

    That is an interesting statement from a man whose Iraq policy is predicated upon Iraqis ruling themselves.
    Or is it? Does John really believe they can? Maybe the corrupt pig he has become from the lean sacrificing navy pilot he was, is hoping to continue the profit funneling (redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich) of the Military Industrial Complex.

    June 12, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Janey for McCain

    McCain is the best candidate we have had in years–moderate enough to think before he acts–smart enough to change his mind when situations change–wise enough to know which decisions to make and who he should listen to –a true American Hero and clear choice for President.

    June 12, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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