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. Kim, Dallas, TX

    Project for a New American Century. OUr country needs to take the time to read it and know what the war in Iraq was really about. McCain was one of the ones pushing to go to war with Iraq before Bush even was elected. I fear that if McCain gets elected, our country is doomed. The rest of the PNAC agenda is to invade Iran and Syria. The goal is to be the supreme super power with permanent bases in the middle east and fighting several theatre wars at a time to keep the world in fear.

    The judgment that is lacking is clearly McCain's. Obama knew that a war in Iraq was stupid. McCain pushed for it. I will take common sense before over zealous behavior anytime. McCain will ruin our country taking over where Bush left off.

    August 20, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Ex-Republican for Obama

    It's bad judgement to invade a sovereign country. But we did, because they had WMD's. Oh wait, they don't have them...we want to stay there anyway...because our surge is working. Nevermind that it's an illegal war, as long as we are victorious in our illegal war, that's all that matters.

    Hey, we aren't losing in Iraq, but we will lose if we continue to support 'winning' an illegal war. Victory is not bestowed upon bullies, read a few chapters of the bible McCain.

    August 20, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    It's McCAIN who will say and do ANYTHING to get elected, even accuse Obama of being a traitor.
    Reason: McCain's knows his age limits him to running just one last time so he will "fear, smear, mock and lie" to get to be POTUS...

    August 20, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. Peter

    its true though, McWar wants nothing but war

    August 20, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. JOHN


    August 20, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  6. bob

    Part of change we need is to make Americans believe again in their goverment. That is why I am voting for Obama!

    August 20, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. Ken, LA California

    MacCain has a military solution for every problem that we face, that is why he talked of an economic surge, an economic surge means more wars to promote the military complex and his oild buddies.

    August 20, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. Nicki

    This election is not about Obama, it is about me and my life and my country.
    Obama all the way!

    August 20, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  9. TheTruthHurts

    Rice has got to watch it. She is an incredible attack dog and she knows her stuff. Problem is aggressive Black women aren't perceived well by some of the voters we need. She's right, but we need a strong-on-defense White male to deliver that message.

    Agree or Disagree, McCain is more about war than Bush. Bush is about money. I can't figure which is worse.

    August 20, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. Copperfield

    Um, duh?

    When asked about how to confront evil, his answer was "defeat it." Like evil is embodied in another middle eastern nation we can occupy. The only time his blood-thirsty attitude has worked to his benefit was the surge, and he can't go five minutes without bringing that up.

    How would you deal with our ailing economy?
    We need an economic SURGE!

    How would you deal with an occupation that is draining our nation's resources?
    We need a second military SURGE!

    How would you deal with a growing international threat (ie Georgia-Russia), our military is already too stretched out?
    We need a DRAFT, so we can have another SURGE!

    August 20, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. THE KID

    Where do I start since Barrack doesn't want to go there , we might as well. No Cindy did not meet with Mother Teresa, lying in church shame on you John. The" cross"story comes out of a book from someone you admired, lying in church again. Consulting with John lewis.All of this in church. Have you no shame, Mr. Mc Cain.
    Last on the question about your what you considered to be your moral
    mistakes, I find it troubling that you mentioned your first marriage.
    From what I read about that you should be ashamed. However I think
    what happened on the USS Forrestal should truly be a moral judgement. 167 soidiers died because you did a ' wet start'.which is what hot shot pilots do.This is truly distubing you do not have the judgement to be president of anything. If people want to know more about this coward then google "Songbird McCain". I did not give him the name, the Viet Cong did because he sniched so much. We should all start mentioning Songbird McCain when we comment. Maybe the MSM which supposedly loves Barrack will take notice. We
    tried it with Peter Paul, they ignored us lets see what happens .Let the truth come out. This is much too serious to be nice guys. If Barrack will not do it , it is up to us. I am the kid and I approve of this message. Peace out.

    August 20, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. No More War Pigs

    McCain is war crazed. He wants war and little else.

    What's he got to lose? He's 70 something and rich ............

    August 20, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. Nana

    LOL @ nick August 20th, 2008 7:35 pm ET

    August 20, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. Cynthia - Arkansas

    That's all McSame wants to talk about is war. I think this county should finish what it's already been lied into first. McSame is just itching to attack somebody, anybody. He totally over reacted to the Russia-Georgia mess. Sorry, we are not all Georgians McSame.

    August 20, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. benson

    I am not going to be distructed this time.
    I am not a whinner, I am a hussler and I won't tolerate thinking about my children and my grandchildren.

    I am going to do the right thing about my country.
    I am going to fight with my vote for my future and change my country and change the world.

    Yes we can!

    August 20, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. Marc PDX

    IF McCain is eager for war does that mean that Obama is eager for partial birth abortions?

    August 20, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  17. joe

    someone tell me what John mccain is running on!!

    August 20, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. Peter E

    Just wait a few weeks with Obama's numbers slipping even more and he'll be pressing the 'racist' panic button again to conjure up sympathy...

    August 20, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  19. Lesley

    I agree that Obama is missing the point. He should be attacking McCain on his war mentality and forget the patriotism insinuations. They are only insinuations, effective though they may be, and cannot actually be attacked head on. Since nearly every answer to any question from McCain relates to the military, even his war stories, it's not a stretch to highlight his penchant for war especially in light of his immediate and bellicose response to the Georgian conflict (which by the way he is completely conflicted in since his lobbyist advisor is being paid by Georgia).

    August 20, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  20. Marc PDX

    Obama will talk our way through Russian aggression, Iran nuke development, North Korean nuke development, Venezuelan hijinx, etc. because these are all countries that just need to be understood. They want to be our friends on the inside.

    And he'll fix them all with beautiful rhetoric (change YOU can probably believe in) just as soon as he flies into town on his unicorn. (subliminal message: jimmy carter)

    August 20, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. PAY BACK!!!

    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.-–McAttack said he thought his attack Ads were Funny

    August 20, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  22. Joseph Adewole

    Its not new; McCain is a war monger; the whole world know that. Its just a pity that war war war everywhere war will not bring much needed safety to America. If Americans make that mistake of electing another war monger...only God knows.

    August 20, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. Jill-IN

    McCain = GOP = goofy old party. I'm voting for the smart guy.

    August 20, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. hillybilly

    that's obvious ,with mccains rhetoric towards russia before knowing the facts,or he did know what was going to happen and owed it to saakishvili to at least come out strong for them,when his plan went too far.

    August 20, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  25. Marc PDX

    Why won't Obama debate McCain? If he's afraid of McCain how's he going to deal with Ahmadinejad and Medvedev/Putin? They'll eat him for lunch... and his script.


    August 20, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
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