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. tren

    Well, McWar did agree that a draft would be nessary to get bin laden. He certainly will never get my vote

    August 20, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  2. Sacto Joe

    To Senator Obama's credit, he's only gone negative after Senator McCain's campaign went negative for weeks, and his poll numbers appeared to drop.

    It's too bad that Senator McCain couldn't keep his promise to have a positive campaign focused on the issues.

    August 20, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Bill Tampa

    There is no way McCain will win this. He' borderline pycopathic. There's no way the American people will let this man hijack our country and keep us in war. It's time to move on and reclaim our country from these Republican Maniacs..


    August 20, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. California Gold

    I'll let McCain "follow bin Laden to the gates of hell." and keep our country's youth at home without a stinking draft.

    While McCain was a POW for 5 years he did not experience the anti-Vietnam War movement that swept this country. He has no understanding of what millions of households wanted: the end of war, end to fighting, end to killing, bring home our troops. Instead he was reminiscing about the good old days when he bombed and napalmed innocent women, children and elderly, although he later said he regretted shredding people, vaporizing babies, and inflicting tortured deaths to civilians.

    August 20, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. Charlotte

    Man, this guy Rove is the genus behind Bushes two terms, he must know how to get it done. Obama constantly uses his name as if it were a dirty word. makes you wonder how much fear the guy still exerts over Obama.

    August 20, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. JOHN


    August 20, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Boston For OBAMA

    McCain needs MORALS.........Hei lies, He lies, He lies. He did question OBAMA's patriotism more than once.

    August 20, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. jt

    The best way to define mccain is a warmonger, and the same old washington politics...

    August 20, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. voter

    No Obama August 20th, 2008 7:17 pm ET

    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.

    How soon you forget that the republicans have not found Bin Laden? where is he?

    August 20, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. tim, boston

    pat buchanan warned the nation long ago that mcshameless will make bush look like gandi.

    buchanan is no dummy, and he speaks his mind.

    August 20, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. Zion

    P, CA, I don't feel I need to add a comment after you so eloquently called the American voter on the carpet. Thank you. I don't know abou tthe rest of you, I would prefer to see Obama loose than to stoop to McCain's level. McCain has disappointed me as a politician and as a person. If this country falters because they're too prideful to see a certain sort of politician lead, then we get what we deserve if we do not elect Obama.

    August 20, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  12. jt

    The best way to define mccain is a warmonger, and the same old washington politics...

    August 20, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. john

    The news media needs to bring out what an aggressive, angry lunatic McCain really is. With his love of war and support for more and more free trade he will bankrupt this country.

    August 20, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Mary

    And what about Georgia? He's been very hotheaded about that too, along with his good buddy, Saakashvili. These guys egging each other on ended up with Georgia going to war with Russia. How scary is that?

    August 20, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  15. Peter E

    Laughing my head off! Congratulations CNN! You've posted, then removed my comments. What's the matter? Not pro-Obama enough for you?

    August 20, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. rightsaid

    See you nest Tuesday McCain.
    Saying you wouldn't have appointed supreme court justices that you actually voted to affirm.
    You are a HUGE Hypocrite!!!!!!!

    At least Obama has integrity.

    Obama '08!

    August 20, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  17. susie

    Obama will make us into a third country. That must be why he wants all the children to learn a second language. Can't he ever be proud of our country.

    August 20, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  18. CM

    At least someone brings up its more important to think about the problem at hand and a suitable solution before just opening your mouth. Maybe thats why McCain's handlers gave him flash cards for his talking points. Don't see anything in Obama's hands when he's answering questions (truthfully) at his townhall meetings.

    August 20, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  19. tom, mississippi

    the neo-cons of CNN are still at it,

    trying to change the course of history

    through their concocted "polls."

    how come none of my family ever get a call from pollsters??

    yeah, we believe whatever you print, CNN, LOLOLO

    August 20, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  20. JoeBloe

    I am extremely suprised to find someone who supposedly went through the horrors of war to be so eager to start another. Anyone to whom I have spoken, that has been in war combat is entirely done with the concept of killing other human beings as the way to solve issues. They always speak of the waste, of human life, of human's souls, and even the waste of our resources. Why can't we, as civilized people, find some way to talk over our differences? War should be our last resort, not our first. The truly great presidents all recognized that war is something to be avoided. And if inevitable, to be ended as soon as possible.

    August 20, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  21. Debby

    How lame these attacks are getting. Obama doesn't have any soultions down the road in foreign policy so his advisors have to come out attacking McCain because he spoke out about Georgia last week.

    August 20, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  22. Obama supporter:White, 60 year old woman

    Lack of judgment:
    1. Cheerleading and promoting an illegal invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 911 or terrorism and believing Americans would be greeted as liberators

    2. Bragging about the "surge" overlooking over four years when you supported a war which killed thousands of Americans and Iraqis, dislocated approximately 3 million and ignored the real war in Afghanistan which has now become a total failure.

    3. Using the "secret" he has for capturing Bin Laden as a campaign gimmick when, if he wasa true oatriot, he should be informing the military what exactly he has in mind is unpatriotic.

    The man is dangerous.

    August 20, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. JIM...TX

    One needs to just remember back a few days when the "presedential" McCain was BARKING at Russia about invading Georgia. Sounded like a HOTHEAD to me. Just who you need answering the call at 3am interrupting his sleepy poo with a finger on THE button!

    August 20, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Maritza

    There is a difference in McCain understanding when miltary force is needed or justified, this man is by far not a war monger , as he has been mislabeled by people who just shoot their misinformed mouth off, and don't have or understand the facts before they give thier inept opinion, to say "he wants payback for being a POW can only come from a primitive mind" The reality is we unfortumatly live in a dangerous world, rogue nations that envy and hate us want to attack us and bring down democracy, they want to prey upon our weaker allies such as Israel, war is complex, devastating and should always be the last possible alternative after we have exhausted every possible attempt at solving a crisis by way of diplomacy and extended talks, MCCain has delt with the complexities of Iraq and the middle east, he has the ability and experience to weigh the consequences and he has the intelligence and knowledge to make appropriate and responsible decisions, their is no truth in saying he's trigger happy , he simply will not be a leader that will be a wimp when and if it comes time to defending our nation . That's the kind of leader our country needs.


    August 20, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  25. Josh, Seattle

    Withdrawing troops from Iraq IS victory as far as I'm concerned.

    August 20, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10