July 1st, 2008
03:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Clark: John McCain lacks 'judgment'

Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark appears on Tuesday's 'The Situation Room.'
Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark appears on Tuesday's 'The Situation Room.'

(CNN) - Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room" Tuesday, continued to press the argument that John McCain is not suited to be commander-in-chief, and took aim at the Arizona senator's "judgment."

"I've never said anything to dishonor John McCain … I like him. But I will say this, that when it comes to being President of the United States, it's about judgment," Clark told CNN's John Roberts. "And I've seen stronger judgment from Barack Obama, despite the fact that he doesn't have military experience than I've seen from John McCain despite all his worldly travels.

"To me, this is about, and I hope the American people will make the decision based on judgment," he added.

Clark also criticized Orson Swindle, a McCain surrogate and former Vietnam POW, who blasted Clark's record as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

"I don't know Orson. I'm sure he's an outstanding man and did a great job in uniform. He doesn't know me either," said Clark.

"But I did in my last command as the head of the forces in NATO, lead the forces of NATO in the fight to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. We did win a war. We bombed for 78 days … we did it without the loss of a single American soldier … We did it with a combination of diplomacy and force," he said.

Clark also discussed his support in 2004 for John Kerry, namely on his military experience, and how it differs from McCain's.

"John McCain basically served honorably while in uniform, he did everything the country could have asked," Clark told CNN. "What John Kerry did is John Kerry got out of the uniform and took a judgment, a judgment I didn't agree with at the time, but he had the moral courage to stand up for himself and oppose the conflict in Vietnam.”


Filed under: John McCain • Wesley Clark
soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. John in Iowa

    Sounds to me like a jealous ex-general who couldn't anyone to vote for him. It also sounds like a man who spent a career in the Army and accomplished nothing. O, it is, it's Wesley Clark!

    July 1, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. ms. sims

    Judgement is the key...GWB has experience but horrible judgement and look where we are as a country. If McCain was offering something different from Bush like he used to, maybe he would have more success with his campaign. You can't run your whole campaign on the fact that your are the best candidate b/c you were a POW then cry when somebody asks questions about it.

    July 1, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Hillary-ious

    McCain's response on this is way off base. Clark's comments are not "sad", they are right on the money. Getting shot down, captured and held prisoner does not make you any more qualified to be president than anybody else. Unless our president has to do his job from a POW camp, it has no bearing on qualification or suitablity for the presidency.

    Now, I do respect John McCain, and I honor his service, but there is only so far you can stretch the accolades for being a war hero. McCain and his tooting of his own POW horn is beginning to seem more and more like Rudy Giuliani who just couldn't resist bringing up 9/11. When a candidate starts doing that, tooting their own horn about one specific accomplishment or achievement, then it starts to seem like they are completely lacking in any other qualities. In this case, get over it McCain. We all know you are a war hero. Nice job, now let it go. We are not hiring someone to survive a POW camp, we are looking for a president. Anyone who saw or read the transcript of the interview of Wesley Clark knows that he was not trying to smear McCain or denegrate his record. In fact, he went out of his way to praise McCain. He simply was stating that we need to be concerned about real issues and qualifications. There are far too many important things going on in the world for the Repblicans, or anyone for that matter, to start trying to obfuscate the real issues with this feigned offense at harmless comments. Clark was right, McCain seems like a sissy to be making such a big deal of it. Does John McCain really feel that his POW experience is his best qulification to be president?

    July 1, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  4. Tammy - KCMO

    Clark, don't back down from your statements. They are true and if the Republican's can't handle hearing it – TOO BAD!
    I would like to see Barack and the DNC back you up on this one. It's time to give back a little of what the Republicans constantly dish out. Only difference is that you are telling the truth and the Republicans do nothing but lie.

    July 1, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  5. Jimmie - Las Vegas

    With all due respect, how in the world do you think General Wesley Clark got to his position? He got there by not what he knows, but who he knows. So where does Clark get off the hook saying that just because McCain was a POW does not qualify him to be a president. Whoever said that in the first place? No one said anything about McCain's POW status qualifying him to run for the office of the presidency. McCain, like any other candidate feels they have the qualifications based on "issues" not what happened in their personal lives.

    And, Clark has no experience at being a vice president, either. He should remain with the military – that's what he knows and does best. Just because he is a general does not qualify him to be VP.

    July 1, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. ottonomous maximus

    Obama/Clark 08!

    July 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. Mr. D

    Why do people keep lumping McCain in with Bush. If you look at McCain’s voting record in the senate the man has voted with the Democrats and Obama “when Obama even votes” almost more than with his own party. As for managing the war that’s all on Bush, McCain has been one of the biggest critics own how this administration has executed the war in Iraq. Clark saying that Obama has better judgment than McCain had me rolling on the floor. Obama surrounds himself with criminals and racists. Who in their right mind can call that the actions of someone with good judgment? Open your eyes America and see Obama for he is a pandering, power hungry and self serving politician who will do nothing to bring hope and change to this country.

    July 1, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Mitan, morgan Hill, Ca

    Mr. Clark is right about his comments on Mr. McCain. One does not become CEO of a company because he/she worked at that given place. You have to earn your stripes to become the CEO/President. It's good to see that some people have PRINCIPLES and they standby that. Media also need to stress this point and it is media's job as a journalists (Media's job is to speak truth NOT just selling air time).

    July 1, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. Former GOP

    I agree with Gen Wesley Clark 100%.
    He never said one thing about McCain Horne.
    What he said was just because you were in the military and you are a POW does not mean you will make a good President. You can wrap you car around a tree brake every bone in your body after you recover does not mean now you can be a doctor! McCain said that he would be better because he was in a war and because he was a POW and he understands what it means to suffer for your country. Well I’m sorry Mr. McCain. Everything you went through mean that you served your country well Period! The fact that you can’t use a computer and or a Blackberry, or even a cell phone tells me that you are not up with the times. So NO McCain no way!

    July 1, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Maxine

    Clark is right Mccain don'nt have the Judgement to lead this country and Clark hold your ground because who do John Mccain think he is We the people need to know what is John Mccain experience on National Securtiy Clark you go after John Mccain,

    July 1, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. Tony, Miami

    McRough temper your temper and admit General Clark is just telling the truth.

    July 1, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. Every Wilson

    If General Wesley Clark was not qualified to be president based on his Military Record. Why is McCain using his military record of experience to persuade the American people that this gives him credibility and experience to be commander in chief. Are the America being duped again! It reminds me of Bushs reasons for invading Iraq, pure unadulterated Bull Dukkey!

    July 1, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  13. Col. Ted Cory (ret)

    Clark is nothing in the military community. As a General in the military community he is not well respected at all. He was given a nick name of General Weasel. The “war” he spoke about was at 30,000 feet per Pres Clinton’s orders to keep it that high as to cause no casualties, which is OK. No ground troops were used. Only aircraft. Like the report just released about the Iraqi war, a review of the war later revealed 47% of the targets were missed and another 37% were dummy targets set up by the enemy that looked real due to the altitude. Artillery targets that were hit were nothing more that 2 tires and a telephone pole So, 84% of the targets were nothing or missed due to the attitude limits placed on the pilots. Nice job general. Wasted a whole lot of money. In fact the only stealth fighter loss ever was under his watch. Nice job. The Iraqi theater was fiercer and no stealth aircraft were lost. Both in Gulf war 1 & 2. He is just a political jockey that is trying to set himself up. Like every body says, General Weasel.

    July 1, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  14. Mike in Sac

    Keating five, not supporting the GI bill, wants off-shore drilling, supports torture even though he was tortured, called Bush's tax cuts irresponsible and now wants them permanent, proposed campaign finance reform but now refuses to accept it and has lobbyists running his campaign, voted against requiring adequate time between rotations for troops, said swiftboating was wrong and now has them working for his campaign, is out selling free trade while ignoring the concerns of those it put out of work...

    The list goes on in a displaying a lack of judgement that is truly appalling. This man is not fit to be President!

    July 1, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  15. California Gold

    So what. Why the outrage. Why calling a 4 star general of the United States military a "looser". General Clark is entitled to his opinion and doesn't insult anyone in the process. Zig....Please try to corral your temper tantrum grade school name calling conduct.

    From what I've seen of most humans we are all guilty of exercising poor judgment at one time or another.

    Big Deal!

    July 1, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  16. AND

    So what????? Is this still news??? Only on CNN. How about the issues, the war, the gas, the food, the jobs, the stocks, anything...no CNN is wasting time trying to resurrect stories about Obama and the Clintons. Who the heck cares? If Hillary's supporters choose McCain over Obama they would had done that if he was PERFECT!!!! It wouldn't matter, they are mad because Obama won, plan and simple and those that didn't get over it, would have never gotten over it. If Obama appoints Hillary as his VP, they still wouldn't vote for him, because they would have never voted for him even if he was PERFECT, duh, that is Obama's reality, he knows it, we know it...we know the history here, but at least some of us are trying to make a better more unbiased, unbigoted future. NOW CNN needs to do the same, get over the Clintons and report the issues that effect our pockets.

    July 1, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  17. Mike in Sac

    Oh and I am a vet and think he is wrong on just about every issue facing the military. Clark is speaking the truth and raising up to question McCain's judgement. If it is so strong then he has nothing to worry about it. The reality is that it isn't so hot and he is scared.

    Keep speaking up Clark. As a vet you represent those of us vets that don't support Bush and McCain. We need your voice heard.

    July 1, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  18. Straight Talk - Ohio

    Gen. Clark responded to a DIRECT QUESTION that:

    a) included the comment about McCain's record (Clark did not just come up with this on his own); and
    b) made it sound as though Obama was at a disadvantage for not having been a POW

    Gen. Clark said nothing to discredit service, only that McCain, who is running on his military credentials, has no leadership experience

    This is completely different than the Swift Boat inciddent, in which compensated surrogates questioned a solider's record. Gen. Clark acknowledges and praises McCain's record, but merely points out that it does not make him fit to be President.

    July 1, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  19. tc

    Obama has it right quote "Clark just 'somebody on a cable show". Now that is good judgement because "Gen" Clark is really nothing.

    July 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  20. GoodForHim

    KiloWhiskey what on earth would you know about going to church with that name???? I suspect nada, nunca, nil.

    July 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. AdamT

    Zig, im quite sure that you will be glad to know that America has awaken from her terrible slumber as record numbers a preparing to race for the polls. I really wish people would STOP with the lemming mentality and look at the facts that are there for all to see without speculation. The republican party had their chance to make good on all the promises they made , not once but twice was the current administration GIVEN the opportunity to make a positive impact on all americans and the world and they FAILED! You dont have to go far to see the impact they made, all yo have to do is LOOK!!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. T

    Who is this guy????? General Clark?????? When did this nobody's comments amount to a small hill of beans? Com' on CNN, at least get someone who is respected!!!!

    July 1, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Mr. MFIC

    I am baffled that General Clark could possibly believe that a candidate who has served only 143 weeks in the senate with 26 of those campaigning for nomination and presidency has got what it is going to take to run this country.

    Clark has been watching too much of The View and Oprah.

    July 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. Food For Thought

    In this episode of "JOhn McCain said what?".....

    In February 2003, the Arizona Republican said "Absolutely not," when asked whether "military service inherently makes somebody better equipped to be commander-in-chief."

    It might be a nice thing, but I absolutely don't believe that it's necessary."

    I rest my case...Mr. Clark move on with your life we see your point now, thank u for stating what McCain himself said.

    Obama '08

    July 1, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. CB

    I love this guy. Gen. Clark, at least there is one man willing to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may!

    July 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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