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

McCain broadens definition of surge

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. Brian

    Perhaps he needs to broaden the definition of "straight talk" to include "double talk."

    July 23, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  2. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Texas Trail Dog:

    Are you hallucinating because obviously you're not listening? You make Republicans look ridiculous. Obama has acknowledged the accomplishments, the bravery, the sacrifice, the skill, the talent, the commitment, the honor, respect, and devotion to duty of our military time and time again.

    As far as McCain, as usual, this is typical Republicans revisionist history. Just like all the BS connecting Iraq with 9-11 and then denying they did that even when they would use Iraq and 9-11 together in the same sentence so often that Americans (like Texas Trail Dog, I'm sure) started to think they were connected. Iraq didn't attack us. Iraq didn't have WMDs. McCain's judgment about voting FOR the urge only came after his lack of judgment voting for us to go there in the first place.

    Please America...don't make this man president. We'll again be the laughing stock of the world.

    July 23, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  3. Derek in Seattle

    Somebody call a doctor for this poor guy. Tell the doc to bring a straight jacket....

    July 23, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  4. ADAM



    July 23, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. Adam

    Changing words to mean whatever he wants them to mean – he's getting more like Bush every day!

    July 23, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. No McCain

    Does he think we're that dumb?

    Come on McCain. Admit you made a mistake. Its not to hard.

    And then once you admit it, then get out of the election. You can't win.

    The double talk express. Yeah, that's what it is.

    July 23, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  7. LT for Obama

    To Aware:

    You are obviously not very aware at all. You are projecting your candidates character on Obama. I would suggest you really read up on what your candidate is saying and doing because the only person who is making a fool of himself the last couple of days is McCain.

    Texas Trail Dog – Like Lisa, please refrain from the hate filled posts and just once actually post something that has some truth behind it or are you just one of McCain's minions behind the scenes just making stuff up?

    July 23, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. California Gold

    McCain is not broadening any definition: he seems to believe he knows of a different surge that was only known to 2 people in the world: Col. McFarland and McCain. So McCain can claim that this unknown surge was before the President and Commander in Chief of the United States' Surge. I used to suspect McCain was just making gaffes due to the grind of the campaign trail. I forgave him the first and second claims about the Czech Republic (not the 3rd and 4th Czech Republic gaffe). Now it's clear McCain (1) rewrites history to his benefit, (2) believes the American public believes every word and every tall tale that flies out his mouth, which means (3) McCain is stupid.

    July 23, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  9. No McCain

    Liebergoober is backing Hagee

    July 23, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  10. Tim

    John Magoo is at it again!!!

    July 23, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  11. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Guliano >>> 911 this and 911 that
    McCain >>> Petreus, General Petreus, more Petreus, and, oh ya, General Petreus (is he in love?)

    July 23, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. That's Reality

    My previous comment didn't get past the moderator, AGAIN. Makes me wonder how many other McCain supporters had theirs censored, also. No wonder it looks like a majority on this site support Obama

    July 23, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  13. Paris

    “McCain broaden the definition of surge” What kind of a headline is this?
    If you are clueless about military strategy, do you have to write about it?
    A child can understand that the surge came with new tactical strategy to help create security.
    Now however you like to spin this, the surge strategy was a complete new approach on different levels and increasing troop level was a part of the new strategy.

    CNN = Politics

    CNN should = unbiased reporting and true journalism and not politics.

    July 23, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  14. Robin A Blue

    Lord please grant him his wish, McCain said has said over and over that he would rather lose the election and win the war. God I promise if you grant him and the American people this one last wish we will promise to be nice to each other, clean our rooms, eat all of our vegetables and make good grade, promise we will. Amen

    July 23, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  15. Mike in NYC

    Redefinition of "victory" seems to be part of the US strategy for "winning" this war.

    Being in Iraq over five years after the war was first "over," with the same number of troops you started with, doesn't sound like "victory." Especially when you've turned the greatest enemy of your biggest foe in the region (Iran) into an ally of that foe.

    This war has been a disaster for the US. The damage to US prestige has been mighty indeed.

    Texas Trail Dog! wrote:


    As someone who is not a BO supporter, I should point out that winning another nation's freedom is not the purpose of the US military. Its purpose is to guard the territory and freedom of the US itself. Those soldiers' deaths accomplished neither in this war.

    July 23, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  16. That's Reality

    Trollmaster – He made no mistake. The real issue here is that he supported the surge, which was successful, and Obama didn't. So who made the mistake? Go figure.

    July 23, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  17. No McCain

    Stay away from the DFW area Mr. Bush.



    July 23, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  18. B.Hawkins

    McCain is becoming a sad shell of his former self. He is not the man that will inspire the independent vote he so desperately needs by the personal attacks on OBama 's love of country when he promised this campaign would not be negative. He claims Straight Talk but he puts out statements that can only be charitable called misstatements. Those may play to a certain segment but those people were always going to vote for him anyway. The problem for McCain is that needs to gather the support of people who thought he was more than what he has actually shown himself to be.Sadly for McCain time is running out for him as Obama comes across as being much more presidential not only here but around the world.According to RCP he is losing 322 to 216 in the Electoral College Map which at the end of the day is the only poll that really matters.

    July 23, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  19. michael

    this guy is meat...pakistan on the border with Iraq???? lets go to Czechoslovakia????? is it the sunnis or the shiites??????????????? what else has he screwed up.I think therre was another one but i cant remember it???.and this is the man who has the foreign policy experience????????? i dont think he even knows where he is half the time!!!!!!!!!!

    July 23, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  20. Ian

    I wouldn't even give him an "A" for effort.

    July 23, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  21. Greig Campbell

    The media should give McClame more attention and discuss all of his gaffes and lies from the past two weeks,

    July 23, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  22. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Here's the McCain Campaign epitaph...
    He practised and practised by shooting himself in the foot; then he shot himself in the stomach!

    July 23, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  23. Steven

    Texas Trail Dog Your Not Reading Or Listening.
    I know Your Type, Sitting On Pins And Needles With Baited Breath, Just Waiting For That Big Obama Boo Boo!

    Get A Life!

    July 23, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  24. Andre

    Can you believe this guy. He does not know the facts and you should not fudge the facts here. It is clear that he does not know his facts.

    July 23, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  25. Steven

    The Warmongers Are Having That Kitchen Sink Feeling!

    So Sad!

    July 23, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
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