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. People make no sense

    McWar needs to explain how he was dumb enough to get caught early in his military career, and spent a long war not fighting but being held captive. Wow what a hero. No guns blazing – shoot your way out of anything – defend America. Just tortured spilling your guts against America. Through diplomatic means, and his father power he was allowed to live. It's laughable that people consider him a hero and strong on war. He spent his time in captivity during war. Is that what he plans to teach us? He was flying a plane he was too dumb to know how to fly and got shot down. Maybe if he wasn't a C student he would have been able to learn the technics to manuever out of position and not get shot down. My grandfather flew endless hours fighting in the same war and he came back a *Real American Hero*.

    August 20, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. kris

    McCain is reckless. It isn't so much a matter of experience vs. judgement as it is one of recklessness vs. level-headedness. The guy doesn't think before he acts. Remember bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran? What we need to worry about with McCain's 3am moment is what side of the bed he gets up on to answer the call.

    August 20, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  3. McCain-in-4, Clarksburg, MD

    Just because CNN reports that Obama's two policy advisors say things does not make these statements true. Neo-conservatism and "warlike" are not easy labels to oss around without supporting facts. John McCain has been in the public's eye enough times to prove the veracity of those statements.

    This hurts Susan Rice and Richard Clarke's credibility more than it hurts McCain, which is sad because I once held Richard Clarke in high regard. I guess the political silly season has claimed two additional souls, and our collective sanity suffers.

    I look forward to a CIVIL discourse between these two excellent candidates, not their shrill minions who are trying and saying everything to get our attention away from the other candidate.

    August 20, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. Rob

    McBush lives and breaths for military conflict. He harbors deep resentment for our percieved 'surrender' in Vietnam and he is bitter over his time as a helpless POW. McSurge has one desire before he dies. That is to be commander in Chief when America wins a war . McBush , like Bush is ready to start an un needed war for all the wrong reasons.

    August 20, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  5. Jim

    Bravo for pointing how how McCain's judgment is seriously flawed and ignorant when it comes to foreign affairs. He "speaks loudly and carries a limp stick" (to reverse the famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt), He does not recognize how weakened and overextended are our military resources. He ignores the record-breaking Bush war deficit.

    McCain boasts "I know how to win a war" and "victory is in sight" as if the USA were still fighting the Viet Nam war, where he is mentally trapped. For all his supposed experience, I cannot imagine a more dangerous person to be President than Sen. McCain.

    August 20, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    McCain = America's doom.

    August 20, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. Copperfield





    August 20, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. Monica, Texas

    What about McCain stance on the draft????? Today in NM he agreed it needed to be reinstated....

    August 20, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  9. sad

    I'm tired of the media making it seem like Hillary's supporters are the only ones that matter. IF they're not apppeased then there will be h@ll to pay..that's the message I'm getting, and its pathetic and tiresome. Just let her try running in 2012, 2016, she will never win because of the way she's contributed to the division of the DNC. She's ruined her political reputation...nice one Hil..

    August 20, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  10. People make no sense

    McWar spent his military years being beaten, tortured and spilling his guts about America. They pampered him compared to the other soldiers because of who his father was. He has no credibility on war. What is he going to teach everybody how to get captured? What a loser he is? Look Semper fi when they beat you turn to the side like this and it hurts less. That's his idea of winning a war. What a loser! And so many dumb people worship this guy. Usually when you are good at something you excel in that area. How is being a prisoner excelling? If that is the case our prisons have a lot of experts. I'd elect one of them before electing McBush II.

    August 20, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  11. Independent

    Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah–I thought Republicans were going to use the scare tactics.....beside, IDIOT, only Congress can start the draft.

    August 20, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  12. Mike

    Please news media and our elected Representatives, stop Bush before he makes another insane blunder. Bush is sending Warships to the coast of Georgia. This is a foolish blunder of potentially disasterous preportions. These Ships will be isolated with no back up if they are attacked. If my son or daughter were on these ships I would scream so loud that Bush would hear me on his Ranch. This idiot tactic reminds me of two previous similar political/miltary moves. The sending of a Warship to Cuba which started the Spanish American War and the Gulf of Tonkin incident which led America into a widened war in Vietnam. So then, what is Bush thinking. To start a war with Russia that we and Russia both know America can not afford. Or to create a Fear situation that will make Americans vote for McWar in the very false thinking that he would be the better leader. Bush/McBush are very very dangerous people that have America on the brink of ruin.

    August 20, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  13. Britney, Barack, Barry whatever

    Britney, Barack, Barry or whatever name is goes by this week

    has gone back to the old Barry, and the magic is gone.

    People just cannot trust Barry, the Barry that did drugs.

    August 20, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. Peachy Keen

    I totally agree with Cynthia and the fact McCain most likely still suffers from PTSS. Someone who cannot forget about war after 40 years and who appears to think about nothing but war is a dangerous person to our country. To give John McCain the kind of power the President has could be the end for all us.

    Please people, think about it and do not put a person who is as dangerous as Russia's Putin in the White House. It is time for peace, not war.

    August 20, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. Bob (NC)

    What's wrong with that?

    War is necessary under certain circumstances. And McCain understands what those circumstances are.

    Do you really Honestly believe that McCain – after going through the horrible torture he went through – would send troops into that situation without good cause? No.

    Someone without that kind of war experience... it would be easy for them to do it.

    I WANT a President who will do what is necessary to protect America. What good is all the money in the world if our country is under attack from terrorists?

    Vote for safety – Vote McCain

    August 20, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  16. Jennifer

    What victory is in sight? Coming from the same man who decalred victory in Iraq years ago!?

    August 20, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. Alice

    Halleluyah! Qbama's finally fighting back! (Hope its not too late.)

    August 20, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |

    You can already see how Obama will handle any conflict.

    Raise a White Flag.

    All Talk an no substance.

    Like he approves other countries , drill off our shores. ( China, Cuba, Canada .

    If he is a leader, well he is coping Jimmy Carter . Yet he has along way to go.

    So You taxpayers Voting for OBAMA, is like a chicken Voting for CONEL SANDERS>

    Sore LIP, HUH

    August 20, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  19. Connie

    P,Ca; i won't throw my rock at you. I am a 64 year old white women that also supports Obama. I am with you how stupid can we be , do we all enjoy the financial hardships, the lack of health care , losing our homes and losing 4100 troops in a unnecessary war .Now McBush in response to a lady in the crowd who commented that following Bin-laden to the gates of hell would mean that we would have to have a draft , he said he did not disagree with her.America is really , really stupid. Obama
    Connie from Indiana

    August 20, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Craig

    If America 'stays the course' in Iraq like McBush insists. America will not care if we have a victory or not. At ten Billion Dollars a month,America will be Bankrupt and in the next Great Depression. Our unemployed and hungry people will not care whether Iraq is run by Shiites or Sunni's or Russians or loonies. America is on the brink of economic collapse and McWar does not have a clue.

    August 20, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. Craig A Texas Democrat


    August 20, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  22. mary

    When i listen to John McCain, what little bit i listen to him if i am surfacing the TV channels, it seems to me that he put very little though into what he says.He will have the US in another war before he gets in the office if he wins.Practically every response to rick warren,s questions Sunday was war related.This is a true blue print of George Bush years.

    August 20, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  23. Bernie Moore-Knowles

    Wake up, people! John McCain is a WAR MONGER! How much clearer does it need to be? I can tell you that my son will never go to war for the likes and miscues of a Republican administration. My child will be "so lost in the Society Islands" that no one will find him. The guy is not only crazy? But, senile!

    Bernie Moore-Knowles
    Kea'au, Hawai'i

    August 20, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  24. Tennisguypitt


    First it's Iran, then what? Russia? Don't provoke Russia, McBush!

    Obama '08

    August 20, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  25. Jaime

    I can't believe people can be so easily fooled into thinking we need more wars and a draft to boot! This is so crazy and scary!

    August 20, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
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