July 23rd, 2008
07:00 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain broadens definition of surge

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McCain campaigned in Pennsylvania Wednesday.'
McCain campaigned in Pennsylvania Wednesday.'

BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania (CNN) – John McCain defended comments he made in an interview on Tuesday when he incorrectly argued that the surge in Iraq gave way to the so-called “Anbar Awakening” – when Sunni leaders joined forces with U.S. troops to fight Al Qaeda in the fall of 2006.

The Arizona senator told reporters Wednesday afternoon that when he refers to the surge, it encompasses not just the January 2007 increase in troop levels but also the counter-insurgency that started in Iraq’s Al Anbar province months prior.

“A surge is really a counter-insurgency strategy, and it’s made up of a number of components,” McCain said. “This counter-insurgency was initiated to some degree by Colonel McFarland in Anbar province, relatively on his own.”

“General Petraeus said that the surge would not have worked, and the Anbar Awakening would not have taken place, successfully, if they hadn’t had an increase in the number of troops,” McCain added.

“I’m not sure frankly that people really understand that a surge is part of counter-insurgency strategy which means going in, clearing, holding, building a better life, providing services to the people,” he continued.

In an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric on Tuesday, McCain said that the surge led U.S. forces to ally with Sunnis, “And it began the Anbar Awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history."

The Obama campaign quickly seized on the discrepancy in the timeline between when the Awakening started and the U.S. later added 30,000 boots on the ground. Before McCain responded, his camp hit back saying that Democrats were minimizing the military’s role in recent successes in Iraq.


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. McCain = War

    Hahahahaha!

    He clearly has no grip on reality to twist. Wake up people!

    July 23, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. Jan From Boca Raton

    McCain is clearly fudging the truth!!

    July 23, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  3. Chris from Ohio

    He sounds like a child that has been caught in a lie and is trying to talk his way out of it but doesn't realize how obvious it is that they are not exactly telling the truth.

    July 23, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  4. anyway

    That was ad-lib at its worst. LOL

    July 23, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. Bulldog

    Once again, changing the objectives of the surge. First it was a 6 month plan, then a year, and now here we are over a year and a half and still the Iraqi government still has not achieved all of it's objectives set by McCain and Bush. But McCain calls it a success. I guess it depends on one's definition of success. If you consider 4th place a success then I guess the surge is a success according to McCain.

    July 23, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  6. Sarah Bonner

    This was clearly a misrepresentation of history, an incredible mistake from someone who lauds himself as an expert on the Iraq issue. I saw the clip and his use of the word surge was clear in its intent and not as he later redefined it.

    McCain is NOT as knowledgeable as he likes to think he is OR he is much more forgetful than we ever realized. I think his age is a really big factor here. Things and events have started to become very muddled for him.

    July 23, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  7. Jim in Orlando

    And Obama still has to spin the "surge" as insignificant, if not a failure! Commander in Chief ? Nah .. he Peter-Principaled out as a "communtiy organizer". Lemmings anyone ?

    July 23, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  8. Obama is The One

    snore

    July 23, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  9. lila

    Oh... so the 'surge' that Obama voted against was not really the 'surge'. Good to know.
    Seeing as how Obama supported what was going on in the Anbar Awakening I guess that means Obama was for the surge.

    July 23, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  10. Surge 101

    Lets say the "Surge" is like putting a cop on every street corner .....

    Crime will go down....until we cant afford to keep the cops on every corner anymore.

    Its an attempt at a short term answer and the results will evaporate as quickly as the money to fund it.

    Then you're back to square 1. Only deeper in debt and more dead soldiers.

    Thats why its presumptive to call the "Surge" a success.

    Any Questions?

    July 23, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  11. Texas Trail Dog!

    ALL OBAMA CAN DO IS LIE, LIE AND LIE STRIVING TO MAKE THE PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT WHAT HE SAID IS THE LIVING TRUTH. HE WILL NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THAT OUR BRAVE SOLDIERS, HAVE FOUGHT, DIED AND LOST THEIR BLOOD IN A FOREIGN LAND TO WIN IT'S FREEDOM. HE WILL NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THE BRAVERY OF OUR FIGHTING MEN. I CONDEMN HIM FOR THIS, BUT HE HAS ONLY PROVED WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT HIM. ACCORDING TO THE SITUATION HE WILL SAY AND DO ANYTHING TO BACK UP HIS LIES JUST TO WIN THE OVAL OFFICE THAT HE DOESN'T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT RUNNING. SAD, SAD SAD, DAY FOR AMERICA WHEN THIS HAPPENS.

    July 23, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. Tim, Seattle

    Still doesnt expalin his gaffe about the timeline. Just another bumble by McCAin as he desparately seeks a stage. Guess Traitor Joe wasnt around to correct him again.

    Problem is, Obama turned McCAin's condescending challenge completely on its head. Obamas toughest day was today when he visited both Abbas and the Israeli government. He made it without any major gaffes or ruffling anyones feathers.
    Obama is looking presidential and diplomatic. McCAin is throwing mud and forgetting his own message and shooting his fireworks off before its dark. I dont know what McCAin can do now. I dont think his pre-mature VP pick is going to help either.

    Obama is doing a masterful job on his trip. If he stays on track, he will come back home with a bump to his momentum that is already slowly but surely steadily maintaining a growing lead over McCAin.

    To make matters worse for McCain, go look at any Electoral map like RealClearPolitics or Politico and look at the numbers. That sneaky and undeniable math will be undoing McCAin like it did to Obama's opponent in the primary.
    Unless McCain can win some blue states or take most, if not all, of the swing states (he is behind in almost all of them) then McCain just isnt going to win.
    Its Obama's to lose.

    Obama/Biden 08'

    July 23, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  13. Roger from CA

    Good, one, John! At this rate, I'm sure that you will soon be saying that the "surge" started with the Battle of Bunker Hill!

    It makes sense: you've been telling us you've won all these wars. I guess if you back-define the "surge" to include all of America's wars, and claim credit for the "surge," then I guess you'd be right.

    Lord, I pray that the American public can see through all these distortions and lies, and fairly judge the candidates for what they are.

    July 23, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  14. michaeledward

    I think there is something completely in appropriate for Senator McCain to lay his mis-statement at the foot of General Patreaus.

    QUOTE- – “General Petraeus said that the surge would not have worked, and the Anbar Awakening would not have taken place, successfully, if they hadn’t had an increase in the number of troops,” – – END QUOTE

    Regardless of the lame attempts of McCain to tell us the 'Surge' was a surge, even before more troops were added.

    To draw a military commander commanders comments into a discussion at a political event, or in a political campaign is, I think, in appropriate. I read Lt. Colonel Bateman's comments at Altercation quite often. He talks about service men and women 'staying in their own lane' when discussion anything with reporters (e.g. don't speak above your pay grade, or about things you do not know). It seems to me that Mr. McCain is drawing Patreaus out of his lane.

    Patreaus is a commander, not a prop for a campaign.

    July 23, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  15. Ellie in Aurora, CO

    Spare the all caps, Trail Dog! No one likes to be e-yelled at. Also, try a little something on the topic of the article, please.

    McCain just keeps digging in deeper. Is anyone buying the rantings of an old fool? He used to be someone you could trust to tell the truth – or so we thought. Perhaps his Keating 5 character is coming out of hiding!

    July 23, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  16. 17 year old future politician

    HE CLEARLY SAID IT "BEGAN" THE AWAKENING,, NOW HE SAYS, THAT HE SAID THE SURGE CAUSED THE SUCCESS...he's digging a hole for himself, he should shut up and let the media talk about Obama's gaffe. Geez he really needs work on campaigning.
    Obama/Sebelius 08'

    July 23, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  17. Lee from FL

    THE SURGE IS NOT THE NUMBER TROOPS WE SENT.

    ITS THE NUMBER OF CASH WE PAID THESE CRIMINALS NOT TO KILL US.

    July 23, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  18. Ellie in Aurora, CO

    One more thing – noticed how McCain is soooooo one-dimentional when he talks foreign policy? IIraq surge, Iraq surge, Iraq surge! And, oh, by the way, the surge is over. What are your plans for getting us out of Iraq? Why can't these guys who talk about "winning" the war even define what winning means? Makes ya' wonder if McCain isn't all about the oil, too. Why else are he, Bush and Cheney so anxious to stay in Iraq if the Iraqis don't want us to stay?

    July 23, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  19. MikeH

    How many millions of American Taxpayer dollars have we spent paying off Sunni insurgents not to kill American soldiers?

    Is this part of McCains new definition of the "Surge"?

    July 23, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  20. ron

    I would like him to define VICTORY in Iraq?

    July 23, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  21. Damage control eh McLie?

    Same old GOP strategy. Lie to the American people and deal with the consequences later. The same tactic that the Bush used when we invaded Iraq and the same tactic that McSame will use in Iran if we elect him into the white house.

    July 23, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  22. ali

    what?omg!he lies as much as gw bush.

    July 23, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. Idiots

    It depends on what your definition of surge is

    July 23, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  24. Lee from FL

    and to be honest,as much as Obama's "CHANGE" is starting to get old.
    i am already sick of hearing John McCain repeating "SURGE"
    we get it john.we get it.now find something else to talk about like fixing this broken economy.

    July 23, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  25. Lone McCain Blogger

    It took them a day to come up with this?

    July 23, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
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