July 1st, 2008
03:45 PM ET
9 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. jrzshor

    is' easy to send in the planes. only the bad guys get killed.

    July 1, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. Phong Nguyen

    People can also question General Clark's judgment in judging S. McCain's military experience!!!

    July 1, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Eric-PA

    I'm glad Clark brought up th word judgement. We can talk about Obama's judgement to sit in a racist church for 20 years and to make friends with terrorists (the weather underground).

    July 1, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Concerned teacher

    Clarke wasn't discrediting his service or hero status, he was just saying that it doesn't qualify him to be the president. Listen to the whole interview. It seems pretty obvious.

    July 1, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Raymond Duke

    Wesley Clark can't fool and old retired soldier of twenty years with his B.S. I don't particularily like McCain and would had preffered another canidate but I will give him credit for his service to this country and for his experience. I guess on the other hand I have to give Obama credit for being a community organizer in the black community and for making hate speeches through his own lips and his wife and pastore and friends. Clark can make all the crap statements he wants to make . He almost in Kosvo started ww111 with the russians but thank good a foriegn officer told him where to stick it. After twenty years in the army i can tell you that to be a general you are recommended and then approved by the senate. In other words you have to be a politician butt kisser to get the star. I also know that all them thirty medals that our boy james was bragging about has usually been given to him for something that occurred somewhere in a unit that preformed the action. Most of the time these generals are like where they are now "in the safe protected green Zone".

    July 1, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. soy

    how any one in their right mind can read and hear what this man said about McCain and draw a conclusion that he was attacking McCain's military service is a testament of the horrible state of the education we have in this nation at the K-12 level. General Clark I'm happy you held your ground. I'm against the actions taken by the Obama campaign in denouncing Gen Clark on this topic but I think they let the fear of coming off as anti-military to the people in uniform and their families get the best of them.

    July 1, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Liz Reuben

    I applaud Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark. Clark did not question Sen. McCain's patriotism. Ret. Gen. Clark actually applauded McCain's patriotism. What Clark questioned was McCain's qualifications to be president; two separate and distinctly different issues.

    Sen. McCain has time and time again flat out called Obama inexperienced. Someone has finally stepped up and is calling Sen. McCain's qualifications, or the lack of them, into question, not his patriotism. As Americans we have a right to know this.

    I applaud Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark for having the graciousness and tact to say it. He is simply saying what many Americans have already been thinking.

    July 1, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Obama supporter from the UK

    You go Clark!!! never afraid of the truth, keep saying it and we will surely prevail. getting shot down from a fighter jet does not qualify you to be a commander in chief no matter how honourable your actions were. go home Mccain and read your grandchilidren bed time stories
    "Obama 08"

    July 1, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. MJC

    Clark you said nothing wrong. When Obama tried to even mention anything about the Military.....McCain got very angry and brought up the fact that Obama never served. Now that you have someone like Clark making a "True" statement, they can't attack his service. He should not apologize. Obama and Clark both praised McCain's service......but that should not be the only thing that qualify's you to be President.

    July 1, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. NC4Obama

    General Clark is right about McCain. He is not trashing his military experience, he is saying he doesn't have the judgment.

    July 1, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. Joe P

    Clark is a respected General who has lived a long and exemplary life. His opinion is valid.

    We need sound judgement that stems from reason and logic and weighing intelligence and listening to all sides– not "conviction" as we've had with our last President. We do not need any more followers surrounding themselves with yes-men of only the same opinion, or with lobbyists and cronies and special-interests.

    We need the cold, hard truth whether we like it or not from a diverse minded leader. This is not a black or white world, it is one made up of a million shades of Grey.

    July 1, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. Not fooled by distractions.

    Gen Clark is right.

    BTW, why is mccains service such a highlight...he served over 30 years ago...isn't there anything more pertinent in his recent history to brag about?

    Gen Clark was right to question his judgement – I wish the MSM would follow suit. A little scrutiny of McCain would be nice – he's just like any other candidate his past should be scrutinized it's not off limits.

    July 1, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. Patrick, Indianapolis

    Senile OLD McFlipFlop not only lacks judgement he lacks the mental acuity needed to be President. Senile OLD McFlipFlop has a diminished mental ability. He's too OLD and Senile. Senile OLD McFlipFlop can't handle the mental rigors of the job because he is so OLD.

    July 1, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. If not Hillary....then McCain

    Now isn't that rich.....Clark saying McCain does not have judgement! He had the good judgement to stay away from the likes of Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers.

    He has the good judgement to revise his stance on drilling...this is not a flip flop, because the circumstances have changed, therefore, the stance needed to be revisited.

    He has the good judgement to truely run a positive campaign, and not have his "surrogates" out there lying about Obama.

    He has the good judgement to accept public financing although the RNC is way ahead of DNC in fundraising and monies on hand.

    Obama is not only an empty suit, he is a spineless, transparent, jellyfish.

    July 1, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Go Barak and Michelle Obama!

    i asked myself this basic question not long ago..my answer to was what makes this qualify as well. but what irks me is that everytime someone questions something that is TRUTH.. my candidate is always coming out and apologizing or rejecting or denouncing this or that! dont apologize for the truth..does he(McCain't) apologize when they try to portray Obama as an absolute wet-behind-the-eyes-loser?..they question his patriotism, his religion, his heritage, even whether the man is black or white enough!!!!.. and someone questions whether McCain's only foreign policy expirience is being a POW qualifies him for presidency?..geez..we are getting soft!.. and this blatant ability of McCain't to not have to face tough questions or his "shady" past not coming into play is pissing me off!

    July 1, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Jay

    Hello Mr. Vice President.

    July 1, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Jody Reno, Nevada

    I once considered Clark a good possibility for VP, but after his latest comments, I wouldn't support him for Dog Catcher.

    I may not like McCains position on many issues, but his qualifications to be Commander in Chief far outweigh Obama's credentials, or lack thereof, his inexperience and gutter-judgement.

    Obama hung his hat on the judgement issue but his acceptance and continued participation in the church that Wright presided over shows a HUGE indicator of Obama's poor judgement.

    I'm a lifelong Democrat, but I will not vote for Obama, so John, you're my boy...

    I'll bet you anything, had I said this about Obama, I too would be labeled a racist!

    July 1, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Silo

    Gen. Clark is very right, and he is the only one qualified to make that bold truth, and he will not chicken out to apologize for ,it cos it is the truth.
    You always see John McCain talk about military and terrorist, and Alqaida and less emphasis on the ecenomy as if that i9s all the duty of the C-in C requires and he is best qualified. After all , I am not surprised he said he does not know anything about the economy. I wonder how he emerge as presidential candidate for the GOP. Is he their best ?

    July 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. Not fooled by fools

    Realistic July 1st, 2008 4:40 pm ET

    "With Obama's sitting in an America-hating, racist church for 20 years along with his relationships with gangsters and thugs, don't try and sell me on Obama's judgment!"

    Is this all you've got – maybe you and the rezko goober postig above should pair up – together maybe you could share a live brain cell. Move on, the rest of the country has.

    July 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. Vote Nader

    Joe in NJ July 1st, 2008 4:36 pm ET

    Except for his vote on the war (which he touts over and over and over and over) Obama has never been in a position to show judgement. All he has are opinions which are quite different.


    That vote does not exist. The only votes we can base his judgement towards the war on are the continual votes he made to support the war financially. Kinda goes against his anti-war "stance", doesn't it?


    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    July 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  21. Ardnuas

    I TOTALLY agree with Wes Clark...... Thank you for saying it!!!

    July 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. Tera Patrick

    CNN –

    You can distinguish yourselves versus FOX, MSNBC and others by making sure the public understands the General's comments by consuming just 7 seconds more of air time ... Run Bob Schieffer's question before you try to insert a SOUND BITE of General Clark.

    1st Ammendment rights come with responsibilities ... in this case, you are responsible to make sure the comments are accurately interpreted.

    I and other Americans have tired of media outlets that strive to be as provacative as possible.

    General Clarks comments were smack down the middle of the road. Anyone who watched the FACE THE NATION interview would know that. If CNN can't spend an additional 7 SECONDS to make sure the public get's the correct tone, you're becoming like the AOL website or the National Enquier

    July 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. CMS

    If McCain doesnt have executive leadership experience or judgement, exactly how much does Obama have? (McCain spent more time as a POW than Obama has been a Senator! Something to think about...) Clark should know all about judgement given he was fired as NATO commander for "integrity" reasons. Obama certainly has great judgement with the people he keeps company with – Ayers, Rezko, Wright, Clark, etc.

    July 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. webster208

    Yeah right. Everyone Obama and his supporters disagree with lacks judgment. They used this on Hillary, and democrats who do not know any better came away thinking that she was selfish and pandering. The Obama campaign even succeeded in making Bill Clinton come out as racist. Will this work in the general election? Who will believe that McCain lacks judgment, especially when this is said to support Obama who has neither experience nor judgment.? Democrats seem to think that everyone is as gullible as they are.

    July 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. James, SC

    The main reason why the republicans are up in arms about this issue is: McCain's POW experience is the core focus and sale point of his campaign. Proving that the two are NOT related proves that McCain is full of hot air.

    July 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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