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. REPUBLICAN FOR OBAMA

    McCain is the most repulsive , selfish and greedy person in Washington. He is so crooked in everyway. I would vote for George Bush again before I would ever vote for John McCain.

    He came home from Vietnam and throw his wife away. He is an angry, mean, hateful old man. He has so much unforgiveness towards his father. McCain needs to forgive him.

    This country must not be put into this man's hands. War is his solution. He laughs because he lies and wrote lies in his book.

    I feel sorry for Cindy.

    August 20, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  2. NO MORE BUSH STUFF

    goggle Keating 5. McCain is not ready to lead; he is ready to rest.
    Young and smart '08/12 the only way to go. Experience is not all that, I am 56 yo. I entered the Pest Control business a few years ago. I soon realized that the old experienced guys knew no more than I did because all the chemicals were diffrent and new. Methods of applying were new. Old ways were now illegal. Much of this applies to govmt. How can we elect a leader who does not operate a computer. What ,are you kidding me he cant check email? DAYUM DUMMY.

    All the HRC people what makes you think she could beat Obama in 2012? she needs cash now to pay her vendors (HARD WORKING SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE WITH FAMILIES) now.

    We cannot waste 4 years and 4000 more youngsters. We cannot even borrow the 40 trillion( 10 trillion per year) it would cost to maintain activities that Mac promises. Our kids would be slaves to the Chinese and British. Not to mention he wants the draft started back.
    WITH ALL BULLYING TOWARD OBAMA TO PICK HRC I SAY ................. ANYONE BUT HRC. all that big talk and you wont even contribute to her campaing debt. Jump in the lake.

    August 20, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  3. No More Unnecessary Wars!!!!!!!!!

    Why would we vote for a man who says we need a draft because he is going to lead us into more wars? Why?
    Obama '08

    August 20, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. Dem

    "advocated unconditional withdrawal" – So McCain, WHEN can we "withdraw" then?? What is "success"??? If what we went in for wasn't there, then WHY are we still there? Why is "winning" so important? do my unborn children have to fight so we can "win"??

    And NO the "surge" isn't the only thing that's lead to our progress there(progress NOT success).

    What's next McCain? "SURGE RUSSIA??"

    August 20, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. Flo

    Why is no one commenting about the fact that only about a month ago, someone from the McCain camp suggested that another war or conflict would be advantageous to McCain in clenching the election. Please tell me that this is simply a coincident...

    I do not want to believe that GW, his friend "pootie-Poot," and blow-hard John and his friend Saakashvilli woud have such blantant disregard for human life that they would orchestrate the current Russian-Georgian conflict for political gain...paranoid but worse things have happened.

    Makes you wonder who really is "The One." McCain needs a war – poof, THERE IS FULL FLEDGE WAR and McCain is in Savior-Statesman mode.

    August 20, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Rave

    Who is he going to fight ?? Even Iraqi's dont fear us anymore.. For last 8 years we were successfull in loosing the respect, love, fear, diplomacy in the entire world.
    I think he belongs in a mental institution.
    Someone please remove the remaining half damaged brain in his head please
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    August 20, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. Sandy

    McCain is seeking vengence for the time He was held as a prisoner of war. Let it go McCain. I don't want no more war talk I need American talk right hear right now, how will you make my company give me a raise since everthing is going up? how are you going to improve the schools our children attend? when is the war going to over so that the families can be at peace? Can you lower gas way more so that I can stop scraping coins to feed my family, Can you make gangs go away? Can you focus on the crimes and drug wars right hear in America?

    August 20, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  8. Robert in Seattle

    McCain = Pro Life, until they are 18, then Pro Death via War.

    Save the children, we need them for cannon fodder for more wars.

    Lied into a war... Mission Accomplished!

    Lied into a McCain presidency, I hope not for the sake of our children.

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

    I have two sons, 18 and 10. Both would get medical deferments. I feel sorry for all those other parents with sons (and now most likely daughters as well) who are close to draft age.

    I have no doubt that John McCain will force us into more and bigger wars if he is elected. After all, he "knows how to win wars".

    Phil T.

    August 20, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. KATHLEEN

    Although,It is hard to compare, Bush was in a hurry and McCain
    stands by Bush's decision. That is disheartening for America.
    WHY? What have you done to our nation? Bankrupt by the day.
    Now what? We have our lives, our children.
    Did you think the Republicans have all but ruined our nation?
    What to do with Russia. THey know we have our hands full. Bush
    can he escape the anquish of ruining our beautiful country?
    Obama will do the best he can but it is going to take a miracle
    to clean this mess up.
    Vote your pocketbooks, Mr. and Mrs. Rich People. Then you can
    take your money and leave us behind. VOTE REPUBLICAN with
    Hannity, Rove, Limbaugh Cheney Bush. Stand behind them!!!!!!!

    August 20, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  11. Phil

    Carl Rove knows how to play the race card, without playing the race card!

    August 20, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  12. Harry

    Obama advisors do not know what to do. They have lot of money from the poor donors and polls are bad. They are all idiots. they are trying to link John McCain to George Bush. Barack does not have any issues. He is a radical liberal. He is a fool. American people are not fools. They know that John McCain was there even before George W. Bush. In fact John McCain won primaries in NH, SC in 2000 defeating Bush. Barack has no history, no background and no accomplishments. He is a wrong person in a wrong place. Get a life.

    August 20, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  13. Susan

    Tucker Bounds is a loser. McCain has een attacking Obam's patriotism, and has all but called him a traitor. But that's o.k, this war mongerer hinted today that the draft should be brought back. So all you McCain supporters better start kissing nad hugging your sons and daughters goodbye. Where will they go? Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? Russi? Gerogia? Poland? Go ahead, send your children into the arms of death by voting for McCain!

    August 20, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  14. Walt D

    Can there be any doubt that the bellicose speeches of McCain, his military history and bakcground plus his links to the military-industrial complex , his most recent bluster relative to Georgia and his big vote for the war in Iraq would make him more likely the candidate to take us into war?

    Also, why did he agree today with a spectator that it may be necessary for us to have a draft? Could war be on his mind?

    August 20, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  15. Donna from Colorado Springs

    McBush would go to war somewhere else in a new york minute. He even agreed with the woman at one of his many rallies today that he wouldn't be opposed to re-instating the draft! Now is that a war monger or what! He says he would rather win the war in Iraq than win the election. Fine John. War to you is the most important thing on your agenda, I see. Screw the economy, which, by all of the polls, is what most of us are concerned about. You pretend to care about what the american people are the most worried about. You are the champion flip flopper of all times, telling every audience you speak to exactly what they want to hear just to get their vote. You actually have no intention of keeping any of your hollow promises . You have your own, very dangerous agenda. And that is to be the bully of the world and pick fights left and right just to keep our troops overseas indefinitely.You scare the hell out of me. I thought Bush was dangerous. Boy was I wrong. You and Cheney are cut from the same cloth. You want to convince the older americans that see your face that looks like theirs, that you have their best interests at heart, and that there is a mean old nasty terrorist on every corner just waiting to get them. You pray on the fear that you and the Bush administration have perpetrated on all of us. Shame on you John.

    August 20, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  16. Ian

    McCain isn't afraid to push the button. That's the kind of leadership we need these days.

    August 20, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. KATHLEEN

    WE can't save the world if we cannot save ourselves!!!!!

    August 20, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  18. anonmouys

    why dosent he learn from romney

    August 20, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  19. Andrew from Alabama

    McCain is going to wipe the floor with Obama in November. The DNC should have backed Hillary!!!

    Hillary, or McCain '08!

    August 20, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. KATHLEEN

    WE cannot teach the world, if we have not learned from our mistakes.
    and we cannot tell other people how to run their government, if we don't set the example.
    Obama will be a start but he is going to need a miracle. America
    needs a miracle.

    August 20, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  21. Ryan

    McCain will have your children and grandchildren in Iran and eastern Europe, dying because of a hot-headed old man.

    Don't do this to your fellow countrymen.

    Obama 08'

    August 20, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. Sherry, Atlanta

    MCCAIN HAD NO CONSIDERATION FOR HIS WIFE (CAROL), OR THE THOUSANDS OF ELDERLY PEOPLE (KEATING 5) THAT HE AND ZEB BUSH TOOK ADVANTAGE OF. . .

    DO YOU HONESTLY THINK MCCAIN HAS GIVEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ANY CONSIDERATION?

    ***NEED TO WAKE-UP AMERICA!

    August 20, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  23. KATHLEEN

    McCain for President=America doomed!!!!! This man is crazy.

    August 20, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  24. Bulldog

    McCain was pushing for the Iraq war before Bush was even President. McCain was the biggest supporter for the war in Iraq and wants to go to war with Iran and Russia.

    He will institute a new military draft. If you vote for McCain you may as well get ready to kiss your children and grandchildren goodbye as they ship off to war.

    McCain loves war! That's all he knows and he doesn't really know it. It just thinks he does and uses his POW status to hide behind while he questions everyone else's patriotism that doesn't agree with him.

    August 20, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  25. Lori

    Obama is starting to reveal himself as the cutthroat, no-holds-barred old school politician he's always been.

    Change? Get serious.

    August 20, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
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