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. Big AL

    Crank Up the hybrid, someone need to drop the C-Nile man off at the ol' folks home. I can't believe the mess that coming out of this man mouth, This here is worst then Hillary Clinton, made up Bosian story.
    And then he come back the next day in a store, like he was buying something. He open his mouth and the BS just came run out and what I believe he was saying that the surge happen before Bush told the Americans people that he was sending more troops. Now either he is tell an straight lie or Bush lied to the American people about the surge and when the troop build up. That mean that Bush had already send the troops over a year earlier...........

    But anyway someone need to give that old as baby a bottle because he keep cry.... " I'm not being cover by the Media "

    July 23, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  2. Monica, Texas

    This has been a "bad" week for McCain..His campaign has shown serious signs of desperation. You are off message, not only does he seen confused but also jealous. Whining about the media and everything is so unlike the fomer McCain where did he go?

    July 23, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  3. DJ CO

    I had hope most Americans will have the intelligence to see through McCain's lies, twisting of the truth and failure to comprehend this series of events. Looking at some of these comments though, I have my doubts. Commander in Chief material, right? Yeah, uh huh. November can't come soon enough so I can vote for President Obama!

    July 23, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  4. Latinos for Obama

    Widen the surge definition, widen it to even include the PUMAS.

    July 23, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  5. Kim

    "The surge is working...we are winning". Working against what? Winning what? Do we even know why we are in Iraq killing innocent Iraqis and Americans?!?! You call sending trillions of dollars to Iraq most of it getting in the pockets of repugnant croonies winning? How dumb are we as a nation?

    July 23, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  6. Michele Hussein, Oregon

    O.K., just have to say this. I've been reading and posting blogs here since January, and never once have I used Mc_______ or used anything foul as a description for President Bush.

    But now I am BITING MY TYPING FINGER/TONGUE. How long will this man flat out lie, distort Obama's platform, misrepresent his vet support, have mental lapses, make international gaffes, make light of killing Iranians, tell denigrating jokes, regress to failed policies and claim "maverick", have no credible economic solutions, fill in dozens of other blanks.........and now this backpeddling on the definition of the surge!

    I will never openly try to disrespect Senator McCain, as I do think he is trying and it takes alot to be a public servant in this internet age, but I just disrespect most everything he stands for. Not everything, but just about......

    Surge 101: Good analogy!

    P.S. Is anyone else out there REALLY WEARY OF ALL OF THIS?

    July 23, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  7. Jay

    What is McGrumpy talking about?
    Oh and it was nice of CBS to replace his real answer/gaffe to the question with another answer, just so McGrumpy wouldn't WHINE anymore. Darn Liberal media!

    July 23, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  8. Roland Stone

    Oh what a tangled web we weave! If McCain was using "surge" in this new broader sense to include pre-military buildup counterinSURGEncy measures, then he must have been accusing Obama of opposing these same unspecified measures. Where's the evidence for this? Or is he just hoping nobody will notice the inconsistency here?

    July 23, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  9. Sabreen60

    I'm just glad that so many people are paying attention and understand the gravity of McCain's blunders. It is my opinion, however, that the inclination to "cover up" mistakes goes to character. IMO, he's not qualified to be the next POTUS. Obama is far more intelligent than McCain. And I for one, want the most intelligent person we can have as President.

    July 23, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  10. mmd

    america, we have seen this before. be forwarded

    July 23, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  11. syl

    Obama is all about wi9nning. Look at his first campaign in Illinosi when he tried to remove all competitors. Look at his campaign against Clinton when his surrogates falsely accused Bill Clinton of playing the race card when the Obama campaign was projecting their own strategy. McCain is right – Obama prefers to loose the war in order to win a campaign.

    July 23, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  12. Caycee

    The entire spectacle of this most recent "explanation" of the surge by McCain should be televised to the entire nation. If after watching it, you are still convinced that McCain is not confused, or worse incompetent, then you should check into the same clinic where they're treating whiners afflicted with a mental recession.

    July 23, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. Bayousara for Hillary in November

    Nothing has worked in Iraq!

    Bottom line!

    We shouldn't be there, we should never have been there, we can't define "winning," and we can't even define "leaving with honor."

    This stupid war will continue into the next generation, and our American young men will continue to be brainwashed into thinking it is "honorable" to go to Iraq/Afghanistan.

    We got out of Vietnam, finally, and that country immediately stabilized. I know this to be true.

    I was conscious then.

    July 23, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  14. Andrea in TX

    I'm a Republican, but I'm sorry, Senator McCain is mistaken on this matter and is behaving like someone caught in an untruth (lie). Just admit you misspoke and get back on your message; don't change your definition to fit your untruth.

    I still don't believe this is the best our party has to offer. I'm sadden by the leadership lack or preparedness for this election after losing the Congress a couple of years ago. Just when I think I'm on board, Senator McCain knocks me off. He is NOT the answer.

    July 23, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. S. Boatman

    Get Off It Already Mccain!

    July 23, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  16. Dale

    I'm really beginning to wonder if the GOP said, "Eh, we're going to lose anyway, so let's finally throw a bone to crazy ol' McCain. When he loses big-time we can say it's his fault for saying a bunch of dumb things and not because of our policies."

    July 23, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  17. TonyinKentucky

    Lying, dimwitted, slipping mentally, or some combination appear to be the plausible labels for our old friend John.

    I don't think it's right to call him McSame or McBush anymore as it is unfair to Bush. Dubya is George Washington in comparison.

    I now totally understand why Dubya won out in 2000, he's way more on top of things than McCain and it's really not close.

    July 23, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  18. bern

    What a liar. If you are wrong just say you are. No need to tell another lie. Apparently McCain's mother forgot to tell him that.

    Or, more likely, he forgot she did.

    July 23, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  19. Finding Nemo


    Clearly – McCain is a on a "Fact Finding Mission.."'


    July 23, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  20. Republican for change

    How can you say Obama lie when it's obvious that McCain was the one doing the lying in this article? Oh wait a minute, maybe it could be because Mc72 just "forgot" about the timeline of Iraq? How can you in good conscience trust a guy with the strategic direction of our country when he's having trouble remembering things?

    July 23, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  21. Caroline

    Yadda yadda yadda........

    .....am picturing his aides after the Big Boo Boo......."Oh God, what did he say NOW? How can we fix this....let's see, OK, he said Surge, but we can say he meant surge.....insurgent.......counterinsurgency...yeah, that's right, ....John? Here's what you say......".......yadda yadda yadda.

    But I'm sure you know better about all that war stuff than anyone else, John. Except for anyone with a memory.

    July 23, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Glenn

    What a senile old dufuss!

    July 23, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  23. KP

    I can't believe folks are going to vote for this guy. He has truly lost his "bearings."

    July 23, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  24. Lee Bartholomew

    I'm more disappointed CBS edited the response right now that the normal experience but inept McCain. Just another reason CBS isn't a trustworthy organization. Which kinda figures because they fired Dan Rather and replaced him with someone worse. And McCain complains about media bias? Dan Abrams (sp) on the other network has been calling him Teflon John for months. He's been getting a free ride from the press. I mean how dumb can you be to attack the people that gave you a free ride. Now that you've angred your own press corps. Now they'll go after you. So by all means... Keep playing your Jessica Simpson stupitiy line. Next thing he'll say is the Bill of Rights was drawn up in the 1600's.

    As far as defining when the surge took place, Does that mean he supported a surge before there was a legal surge. Which would mean that there was no surge. So no arguments.

    July 23, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  25. KP

    McCain is taking way too much credit for the surge. Obama is right when he gave the credit to the men and women in our arm forces that made all of this possible.

    Obama for America and America forObama!!!

    July 24, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
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