August 20th, 2008
07:00 PM ET
10 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. Marcia

    I'm not getting this whole emphasis by the news media speculating that there will this great discord between Democrats. This whole notion that the die hard Hillary supporters will cause havoc and show their totally disdain towards Obama on the convention floor I think is a little bit over the top. I don't see any more of a divide than when other candidates who ran for their party's nomination lost and how totally disappointed, hurt, angry thier supporters felt. But, what is fascinating to me is with all the questions on whether or not Obama can "win over" the Hillary supporters there are over 100 Republican congressmen and women, several Republican senators and heavy weights like Colin Powell, and now Gov. Arnold Schwarenegger have all decided they will be a "no show" at the Republican National Convention. Besides Joe Lieberman, what other leading Democrat has decided not to show up at the DNC convention because of their total displeasure with Obama as the party's nominee? (I'm not counting John Edwards and Kwame Fitzpatrick.) Yeah, it looks like the Republican has a lock on total unity thing.

    Just as the news media are analyzing the candidates, the public is analyzing the news media. So far, it has been interesting to see and hear. News people are just people who at times let their own "prejudices" seep in when "reporting" the news or giving their opinions. It's just human nature.

    Many are quite aware that Obama has been given a higher bar to jump, unfair as it may be, but there it is. And yet, he hasn't decided to castrate McCain and behaved like an goon. Good for Obama! He has decided not to let the bullies out there pull him into the mud with them.

    August 20, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  2. P, CA

    I don't think that Obama OR McCain's judgment should be called into question.

    I think the judgment of the American people should be called into question for not being able to see through all the devious actions and hate people are perpetrating on each other in the name of "politics." This is almost as bad as religious persecution.

    *hands everyone a rock*

    Did I mention I was an Obama supporter? That's all I need to say for a lot of you to stone me. Go ahead. Maybe that rock will come in the words "Kool-Aid Drinker" or "Idiot", but I'm sure you'll nail me somehow.

    August 20, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. Jerry

    Aren't these ads always approved by Senator Nobama? How hollow! This speaks volumes of his political rhetoric and hypocrisy.

    I guess this is "Change You Can't Count On" at its best.

    August 20, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  4. No Obama

    Obama wants to play "patty cake" with leaders that want to kill Amercans. McCain just plain knows more than Obama – he can handle things better than Obama.

    I would not think a POW would be for war – hardly – but he is smart enough to know what to do in a crisis. Obama will want to "Play Nice". He will put all of us in terrible jeopardy.

    August 20, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. vic nashville,Tn

    To late
    Mc Cain already build the base
    Hillary 08 or Mc Cain 08

    August 20, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  6. Greg FL.

    McCain stated today. He isn't against a draft in the US. He needs fresh meat for the grinder I guess. He and his temper will takes us to war at the drop of a hat. He's a military man who is in love with war.

    August 20, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. Leah in Vancouver

    "McCain of calling for war in Iraq before 9/11, “even before the beginning,”

    And this is a man whom we want to be the next President????

    So what's Next, Go to war with Iran, Syria ,Russia

    August 20, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  8. Howard

    It is good to see Obama fighting back against McCain on this issue. McCain was an early and enthusiastic proponent of the war in Iraq.
    McCain's judgment is seriously flawed.

    August 20, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. concern

    People will only wake up to the NEO's when the nukes start flying!

    August 20, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. Loyalty23

    McCain and Judgment: 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. Funny how McCain and Bush moved our troops out of Afghanistan with "victory insight" against the Taleban/Al qa-ida and Osama Bin Laden. His and Bush's Judgement have left us in a two-front war and No Bin Laden? What judgement there? Please!
    I no you want post, but needed to be said over and over

    August 20, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. Sammy

    Just more 'back and forth'. Also, way back when the 'lets get Saddam' speeches were good politically because they knew it never happen. Or... they thought they knew. Remember the old saying 'be careful what you wish for'.

    August 20, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. Venus


    You need to put your gloves on!

    Where's your gun? You said if they bring a knife – you will have a gun?

    It's time to load your gun and fire!

    You need to step it up! Man up!

    August 20, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. Former Clinton Supporter for Obama

    John McCain is scary. He seems to be a trigger-happy and somewhat unstable warmonger, who is intent on rushing to war and asking questions later. I'm the parent of two small children, and the thought of his finger on the proverbial red button terrifies me.

    August 20, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. paying attention... CT Voter

    Finally!!!! I mean duhhhhh!!!!!!

    90% of all that he says reverts to war & how he "knows" how to win them....

    C'mon... please someone else mention this... world war III makes the republicans look better to Americans for some strange reason since their pulling us in that direction... whats wrong w/you people?

    Do you think anyone person can protect you from evil?


    August 20, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. BETTY


    August 20, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  16. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    If you have any children 14 years are older you better think long and hard before you vote for this evil War Monster named McCain. He wants to draft your kids.

    Today at a townhall meeting, an audience member praised Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for his vow to "follow bin Laden to the gates of hell."

    After a long question about veterans' care, the questioner said she believed we needed to reinstate the draft, to which McCain seemed to readily agree:

    QUESTIONER: If we don't reenact the draft, I don't think we'll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.

    MCCAIN: Ma'am, let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said.

    August 20, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  17. mike

    Mcbush doesn't know who rich are,may be 5million dollars earners, is that the change you want from Bush to mccain?

    August 20, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  18. California Gold

    Absolute truth. Last week with the conflict going on with Russia and Georgia, McCain seized the opportunity to get hot and bothered and called for military might. Frightening to see someone so eager to throw our military into another's battle. McCain was totally fired up. Meanwhile the French quietly brokered the cease fire using diplomacy. McCain is too dangerous. Too quick on the trigger.

    August 20, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. Peter E

    Another great example of how Obama stays on the issues and refrains from negative attack advertisements... NOT!

    August 20, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. truth now

    He is a warmonger. He is from the old school that thinks, killing people is the way to end all conflicts. I'm sorry but we just about have the whole world hating us now because of George Bush and his cronies including McCain. We are either going to learn to talk and compromise or have billions of people trying to kill us. We can't kill the whole world and if we try all we do is make future generations of people that want to kill us.

    Now the warmongers would want you to believe that if we just kill them all we will be safe, but they never tell you how that is possible. Then they use the old psychology of cut and run therefore saying you are a wimp if you don't kill people. But people you had better wake up. If you beat a dog long enough it will turn a bite you. We think we can drop bombs and kill thousands of innocent people to get one person most of the time and these people will drop to their knees and thank us. Please I think it is more likely, drop to their kness and set of a dirty bomb. We need a new way. We need to do something better than kill people if we don't want them to kill us.

    We need to stop voting for idiots that spout one line, idiotic statements like; We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here or other nutcase statements like I will chase Ben Laden to the gates of hell because I know how to get him. McCain if you know so much, why is he still out there?

    August 20, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. ken

    Hillary clinton was leading in all polls last year. I don't need polls to tell me who is leading...

    August 20, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Peter E

    Is Obama really getting this desperate? But then again it's better to keep the focus on the rival rather than talk about the constant flip-flops of one's own stance on the war.

    August 20, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Cynthia

    I agree 100% that Senator McCain is more eager for war. It seems like he wants to do some payback for being a POW when what he really needs is some therapy. I'm sure back them they did not have therapy for the POWs – heck they might not have had therapy at all. When you look at the number of men & women coming home from Iraq with post traumatic stress syndrome and having a hard time getting the proper care in 2008 – you have to know back them they did not get proper care.

    August 20, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. nick

    Obama for America

    Mccain for Iraq .....

    August 20, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  25. Obama '08

    If you like 100 year'll love John McCain
    If you like the'll love John McCain
    If you like illegal'll love John McCain
    If you like bad'll love John McCain
    If you like the smell of'll love John McCain
    If you like the Bush'll love John McCain
    If you like a dis-unified'll love John McCain
    If you like'll love John McCain
    If you like'll love John McCain
    If you like'll love John McCain
    If you like cheating on a sick'll love John McCain
    If you like the Keating 5'll love John McCain
    If you like Jack'll love John McCain
    If you like'll love John McCain
    If you like wars with Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq....
    you'll love John McCain

    But, if you love America...Vote Barack Obama

    August 20, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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