June 16th, 2008
08:07 AM ET
10 years ago

Blitzer: Iraq will still have an 'enormous' impact at the polls

Blitzer: The economy may be the top concern -- but Iraq will still shape the race

Blitzer: The economy may be the top concern - but Iraq will still shape the race

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The debate between John McCain and Barack Obama over the war in Iraq boils down to a few critical differences.

In a nutshell, McCain says the military surge in Iraq finally is working and insists Obama was totally wrong to oppose it. He says Obama also has been wrong in not visiting Iraq in more than two years and in not sitting down with Gen. David Petraeus, the outgoing U.S. military commander in Iraq, for a private briefing.

Obama says McCain’s judgment is flawed because he was among those who voted to authorize the war back in 2002 and pushed for the invasion. Obama, an Illinois state senator at the time, opposed the war from the start. Obama also says McCain doesn’t discuss the approximately $10 billion a month that the U.S. is spending on the war – money, Obama says, could be better spent here at home.

McCain says the U.S. can win in Iraq and return home with honor if it keeps troops there. Obama says that that the only way the Iraqis themselves will step up to the plate is to give them a timetable for a troop withdrawal.

The polls show the state of the economy is the most pressing issue for most voters right now. I have no doubt about that. Still, what happens over the next five months on the ground in Iraq will have an enormous impact on the presidential election. I have no doubt about that either.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (189 Responses)
  1. David Rader

    So much talk, but not very much truth. Everyone, including CNN should HAVE TO answer, why are we there. We were lied to – FACT. Any war should have a reason. Can ANYONE answer?

    June 16, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. WB, PSL

    John McCain/George Bush has started an unwarranted war in Iraq that's costing the American tax payers $10 Billion monthly. YES, this will be in voters mind come November. The surge hasn't work and John McCain visit the the now penetrated Green Zone did not give him the big picture of what is really taking place in Iraq. A vote for John McCain is a vote for George Bush 2rd term. Americans, wise up and vote democrate this November.

    Obama '08

    June 16, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Mike

    Iraq is a cancer.....while Hallibuton, Blackwater and such are are in absolute heaven, the rest of us only get to listen to the great sucking sound of our wealth being drawn from our living bodies as these leaches claim "patriotism"...give me a break....while the Republican party continues to dupe us into thinking it is for our good while the wealth gets concentrated and the hardship gets spread out....

    absolutely Obama.

    June 16, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. Michael G-Ventura ca

    Iraq should play an important role in the election. George W's whim has cost us in LIVES, in our pockets, and in our hearts. It has effected our government and way of life for over FIVE YEARS. Enough already! Vote for CHANGE!

    June 16, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Glenn

    There has never been a question of honor in regards to our American military troops. They have served in honor.

    The real question of honor revolves around Bush who lied and mislead the American public and Congress about going to war in Iraq in the first place. The next real question of honor revolves around McCain who deliberately chose to back Bush and base his elcetion campaign on the dishonorable war. McCain, or better yet, McBush or McSame, or even better, McShame is a war monger. It is incredible that a man would be so desperate for power that he would pin his hopes on winning an election on waging an illegal war for the next 100 years. He apparently lacks the abilty and courage to make the real hard decisions when it comes to doing what is right.

    Again, McBush was a naval pilot, a POW and a hero. However, none of these experiences equate with being a President or Commander-in-Chief. It appears his age, his lose of bearings and poor judgement show McShame to unfit for the office of President.

    June 16, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Barb

    McCain keeps missing the point–he never should have endorsed the U.S.'s going to Iraq in the first place.
    McCain's cheese slipped off his cracker a long time ago.

    June 16, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Brenda of Saginaw ,Michigan

    I am a wife,mother,daughter,sister and aunt of military personel. Before you judge go out to the VA hospitals and see for your self what our vets are dealing with. The VA hospitals are in bad shape and they are not getting the care that they need. I had a Vet at my home yesterday and he told me while he was in the hospital McCain came there and only went on the wards that were in good shape and never did he show his face on their ward. This young man was from the Viet Nam war era (mentally he is still there) . He will vote for Obama was what he told me and dare any one to change his mind because of what he knows. I guess only McCain and the rest of his crew knows something different. I say young man he is 57 years old and tad younger then myself.

    June 16, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Ralph

    It will have an enormous impact on McCain. He will lose by a very large margin. He is unelectable.

    June 16, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Colony14Author

    Umm, exactly what is news here? What bother to tell the readers what we already know?

    If you want to emphasize known facts, it might be good to remind people that there has not been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001. (Perhaps that has something to do with our troops killing at least 20,000 terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

    While our soldiers are keeping the foreign bad guys away from us, we have our own share of American bad guys here. Why don't you let Americans know that the streets of Iraq are safer than the streets of Detroit, Chicago, or Los Angeles, and report on what is or isn't being done by the mayors of those cities to keep Americans safe?

    June 16, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Shawn T

    US spending $3 Trillion to bring order to a bunch of tribes stuck in a medieval mindset.

    Not even getting any oil in return.

    4000+ US soldiers dead, thousands of coalition soldiers dead, 250,000+ iraqis dead.

    Makes perfect sense to stay the course, doesn't it?

    Or how about swallowing some pride?

    June 16, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. getsomeclues

    yes, Wolf! Anyone with half a brain has known for several years now that the Iraq war is a monumental failure on the same or larger scale as Vietnam. And the American people (some polls say as much as 80 percent) know this. Many, many GOP faithful will vote Democratic this year along with the majority of Independants, as a direct result of this insane war. To say or think that spending over 120 billion borrowed dollars a year has not contributed to our failing economy is to deny the obvious. All the Repubs can come up with to defend the war is "we haven't been attacked since 9/11" give me a break do they really think that this stupid war has made us safer?! Bin Laden is in Afghanistan/Pakistan....not Iraq!

    Vote with your brain, and vote against McCain!!!

    June 16, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Doc

    Do we to be scholars to know the War is a mess. With the defect in the Bush Administration (former press secretary) coming forward and telling the true story this War was a hoax. But more important is the integrity of our leadership to know where to go from here. And some pivotal decisions have to be made similar to the decision to go to Iraq. I don't trust Mc Cain to do it. It's obvious to me that mentally he was never recused from that camp in Vietnam. Our economy is in ruins and with the current weather disasters across the country our food shortages are set to worsen. At 10bil a month or so (who knows the real figure) and a deficit the size of three or four countries combined its a wonder why we haven't left already. We owe China more money than ever. Now how dumb are we to sit around and have McCain admit he knows nothing about the economy yet knows everything about foreign policy and expect him to help our economy out. Please lets get our dept down and start rebuilding our own nation. It's would be so bad if our own country wasn't suffering. All these war heros and military buffs talking about staying over there.... those people are defenders of the free world not leaders of it. And the biggest question is do you continue to fight in a land that not yours while home base loses the War at home, THE US IS IN ECONOMIC DISTRESS AN ECONOMIC WAR, and we are losing.

    OBAMA 08

    June 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Reggy Mack

    So McCain has said that the military surge in Iraq finally is working. If this surge is working what took it so long. It is now 2008 and we have lost more than 4000 soldiers. The first Gulf war is an example of a real military surge working from the beginning and til the end. We need to leave Iraq as soon as possible because the real reason the soldiers was sent their was because of oil. McCain admitted this by accident and tried to take it back by saying he was talking about the first Gulf war. Noooooot! The first Gulf war was for the liberation of Kawait not oil Mr. McCain.

    June 16, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Jan - Oregon

    I believe John McCain is being realistic and has a better understanding of consequences to Iraq as well in the region and to the world, more so than Obama. Remember lots of people voted for the war based with information given to them. In my eye's Iraq cannot be left without the United States presence. I feel Iraq’s leadership will not ever be strong enough to uphold its government or able to defend itself from invasion after the United States leaves? I don't think Obama can deliver 100% troop pullout due to the complex of the Iraq.

    All Obama can say in his speeches, Bush got us in Iraq and it's costing us billions to be there which is ture. Obama has not shown us his detailed plans how he expects to get us out of Iraq. Also, would he ever consider leaving a combat base in Iraq? Would Obama have consequences to those who invade Iraq? No one is asking Obama enough questions about Iraq and we should be!

    People, we all want out of Iraq but it's not going to be easy as Obama makes it sounds like. I believe John McCain’s wisdom and experience he speaks the truth when he says the United States will be there for a very long time because of the complex of the region. I want to hear Obama's Iraq plans not hear anymore talk that Bush got us there and it's costing us all billions, we all know that. Talk is cheap and vision is wonderful but can Obama deliver all that he says?
    We are stuck! I want a president who speaks realistic and not speeches based on so much vision, I want to hear plans and solutions!

    June 16, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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