August 20th, 2008
07:00 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama advisors paint McCain more eager for war than Bush

(CNN) – Top Obama foreign policy advisors Susan Rice and Richard Clarke said Wednesday that John McCain had a tendency to “shoot first and ask questions later” – accusing him of “itching for war” with Iran and Syria, and alleging that he pushed for U.S. military involvement in Iraq long before the Bush administration did.

The comments came after John McCain said Wednesday that he had not been questioning Barack Obama’s patriotism, as the Democrat’s campaign had charged, but his judgment. “Senator Obama has made it clear that he values withdrawal from Iraq above victory in Iraq, even today with victory in sight,” McCain said on the campaign trail in New Mexico. “Over and over again, he has advocated unconditional withdrawal – regardless of the facts on the ground.”

Rice shot back on a conference call with reporters that McCain was in fact attacking Obama’s integrity and patriotism with “Karl Rove ‘say anything, do anything’ gutter politics.”

She called McCain’s remarks “the height of hypocrisy” since “McCain has a long track record of supporting a reckless and extreme foreign policy. His tendency is to shoot first and ask questions later.”

Listen: Rice and Clarke slam McCain


Former White House counterterrorism chief Clarke accused McCain of calling for war in Iraq before 9/11, “even before the beginning,” saying McCain and his “extreme neo-conservative” advisors are one of the main reasons the administration invaded the Iraq.

Clarke added that McCain is arguing that the surge is “responsible for everything that has gone well in Iraq” but that overall judgment on Iraq was wrong.

“The greatest tests of national security judgment in the last decade have been what do you do about Iraq and what do you do about Afghanistan? And John McCain failed both of those two tests, the two most critical tests of national security judgment in the last decade.”

McCain’s campaign responded to the call repeating his words from earlier that Obama is pushing for withdrawal in Iarq “with victory in sight” and criticized Obama for voting against troop funding.

“Barack Obama’s own campaign is the only one talking about his patriotism,” spokesman Tucker Bounds wrote in an e-mail to reporters. “Criticizing these positions isn’t a question of Barack Obama’s patriotism, it’s a question of his judgment.”


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. BK

    McCain has the experience to lead this country. We have too many problems to elect a man that has no experience. The polls are saying that people are figuring out that Obama is an empty suit reading a speech. Now that Obama is losing support he wants to win so bad he will give Clinton the vp. He will do anything to win and the messiah is convinced his followers will vote for him no matter what he says or does. Sounds like a cult doesn't it? Good luck with that!

    August 20, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  2. Brennan, Iraq War Vet

    The McCain camp will ask "Is this new politics?" but Barack has had his hand forced. MCCain has been pounding him and Barack has no choice but to return fire. I don't like the fact that Barack has to do this, but there are no options for him. A victory against McCain is too important.

    Some times to beat bad people you have to beat them on their level. In the military they say take the fight to the enemy and while McCain is not the enemy he is the opponent and he brought us to this point. Now Barack has to take the fight to him.

    August 20, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  3. Tejano

    The only thing that our enemies understand is FirePower not diplomacy. Diplomacy works only when people have common ground. When the enemy is intent on destroying your way of life the only way to convince them otherwise is to arrange for them to meet
    Allah. What part of you are the infidels that must die dont you understand.

    August 20, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  4. Tejano

    McCain is not for the Draft. The Draft is the great equalizer, then you Liberals that only want to live in our Country but don't want to support it will have your children serving. Mine volunteered ,,Yes, Volunteered to serve his Country. I volunteered to serve my country. My father volunteered to serve my country. Your Freedom was secured by my families sacrifice. Your rights were won with the blood of our ancestors that fought a war against England. What have you done.

    August 21, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  5. Jon

    Today John McCain said that he would be for reinstating the "DRAFT" . This tells me that his idea of peace is who has the biggest army and WWlll is his dream. I'll tell you now my son is not going to fight any BUSH/MCCAIN wars and if you want more Americans deaths then McCain is your man. But if you vote for him when your son gets drafted and killed in a war that McCain wants it is on your head.

    August 21, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  6. Carl from MI

    He IS more eager for war.... war with Iraq, war with Iran, war with Russia... he's ready to BOMB, BOMB, BOMB!!!

    And now he's ready to start the draft in order to start fighting all these wars... BRING ON THE DRAFT, McCAIN!!!

    More war is what our nation needs... and McCain is ready to start those wars. The polls say 70% of our nation is tired of the war and wants to bring our troops home... and yet over 40% of you support McCain and 4 more years of wars... somebody's not telling the truth because the numbers just don't add up.

    But that's just the way it is with McCain... his numbers just don't add up. That's why all he can do is attack Obama.... he has no game of his own. McCain will bring back the draft... WAKE UP, AMERICA!!!!

    August 21, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  7. anna

    Politics is about defeating your opponent.
    It is not gonna happen just discussing issues. Most U.S. voters don't understand the issues. Sad, but true.

    I think it is highly irresponsible to misrepresent someone's values or record in campaigning, but to take advantage of political mistakes...Hillary's snipers, Barack's guns and religion, and McCain's foreign policy speeches where he doesnt seem to know the Czech Republic from the Sunnis– are fair game. it's the name of the game.

    Child's play considering what the victor will be subjected to as the most powerful person on Earth.
    Please, as long as its honest, let em go at it.
    No wuss in the White House, please!

    August 21, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  8. Obama all the way

    Consider this McWarmonger he is against Roe v Wade ....then he voted to start a war in Iraq for absolutely NO reason so they could ship off (our children that have reached 18 years old )to fight their no reason"oil for these crooks WAR .
    Now who could vote for them?

    August 21, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  9. Rod

    And what about McWar's explosive reaction to the Georgia crisis? He almost insulted Russia and almost declared war by himself. That is a bad lack of judgement. Russia may be the bad guy but you do not start a diplomatic approach by insulting one of the parties you are trying to negotiate with. Thatt's again lack of judgement. The belligerant character of McCain leads me to believe that under a McCain presidency we are headed to another war maybe worst than the current ones.

    August 21, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
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