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. Sam from Chautauqua

    McCain the American war hero stated, he was beaten, bayoneted, tortured and that he tried to commit suicide in his prison cell in Vietnam. Is this the man that you want to have his finger on the NUCLEAR WAR BUTTON. Will the American people wake up! This guy is a lunatic.

    August 20, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. Justin

    Most republicans are shying away from their convention because most were advised to do so in order to concentrate on their own congressional campaigns. It has very little to do with McCain himself. They are facing tough times ahead as many voters are tired of the repubs that represent them so they are skipping the convention to work on preserving their own political futures. At least thats most of what I've read. Except for some social conservatives most republicans have faith in McCain. By the way, I'm a democrat but figured I'd clear that up for you.

    August 20, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  3. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    McCAIN = BUSH 3

    SAY NO TO McCAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 20, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  4. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Regardless of the lies that Obama and friends spread about Hillary and John McCain, Obama is a risky candidate. He doesn't think we are a Christian Nation. I am shocked to the very core of my Christian values.

    It would be a gamble to have Obama anywhere near the Oval Office. He is a clear and present danger and we must be on guard.

    Remember Obama Risky, McCain will protect our nation and our values.

    August 20, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. militarymum

    I truly thought the American people are smarter than during the Bush/Kerry election, but, you know, I think I might be wrong. WAKE UP AMERICA – please listen to the candidate and their values and NOT the opinion of their opponent. McCain will continue the war – we have lost 4,483 good soldiers – how many more do you want to lose ... and for WHAT? Are you happy with our economy under Bush? McCain has the same ideas. Think about how you want to live and vote your heart! Listen to the platforms and base your opinions on that – DON'T LISTEN TO THE MUD SLINGING AND THE LIES. Come on America, show me that the American people are intelligent individuals and that we can decide on our own – not by who tells the most lies!

    August 20, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  6. I have a 16 year old son

    The typical republican just doesn't care, because they're figuring that somehow, they'll weasel their kid a few deferrments....maybe as many as, say, five?.....Is there a pattern here?

    August 20, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  7. Cindy

    I remember when George H. Bush was president, I saw a t-shirt with his caracature and the caption that went something like, "Economy failing, poll numbers down? Don't worry about it, George... just start another War."

    This is McCain's strategy, too. Nothing raises patriotic fanticism and hides a bad economy like a good old-fashioned call to "Defeat the Evil Empire!" And we fall for it... every single time.

    August 20, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  8. LT for Obama

    McCain said in his 2002 autobiography that the only reason that he wanted to run for president was purely ambition.

    He does not care about what happens on US soil so long as he can run a war that he cannot win. This man claims he knows how to find Bin Laden and that he knows how to win wars. Why then has he not worked with the current administration to do just that?

    He has been wrong about so many things including getting out of Iraq. He said that the Iraqis would not want us out and now they are demanding a speedy timeline. According to him, they would not ask, how did he know this? Because he knows them, he has spent a lot of time there and he knows how they think. Then why did he not see thier demands coming?

    He is such a liar. Even after his attacks are proven false, he continues to use the lies. He keeps saying Obama will not admit the surge worked when in fact, I have heard Obama say it at least four different times that violence is down because of the aid of the soldiers. All these lies will take him down.

    August 20, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |

    The polls are dead wrong.

    August 20, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  10. catmom

    Not an Obama fan but the reality is that he can do no worse than the current President. Bush had an experienced administration, people from Reagan and his father's administration and look at the mess our country is in. Bill Clinton was right when he said no one has enough experience to be President.

    August 20, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  11. john williams san diego, ca.

    Dumbocrats...the new Jimmy Carter A.K.A. the chosen one-the messiah- the socialist-the flop flipper..will be the cause for a draft, but with the narcissist i see in the me generation it's over for America they will turn French.

    August 20, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  12. Lee from FL

    McCain will start world war 3 with Russia.

    dont say i didn't tell yah.

    August 20, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  13. KG

    McCain is without a doubt head and shoulders above Obama on issues of national security. Now, recent polls say McCain leads Obama by a large margin on economic issues. Obama's losing ground fast. And...of course, when you start losing as fast as Obama is, what do you do? The very thing he claimed he wouldn't. He goes negative. Bottom line, Obama's nothing new, just a lot more naive and inexperienced.

    August 20, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  14. Michael

    This has been one of my biggest disappointments about the campaign. Some how the Democrats found out about McCain's plans once he becomes President. Us Republicans were all hopeing he would be able to spring WWIII as a supprise on the rest of the world. We've all been buying stock in corporations with millitary contracts. Now everbody knows, it just ruined.

    Now if Obama wins, I won't have anywhere to invest my money either once he destroys the economy. Aaghhh!! Don't Democrats understand anything about mayham and making money.

    For anyone who actually read all the way through this joke of a post and really think McCain wants to start a war, I hope you found this as funny as I do all your posts that seriously claim the same thing.

    August 20, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  15. Patriot Patrick of Houston

    McMonger has got to be stopped. This is a bad man. He wants war. He shoots first, then asks questions. He'll send our kids to war. He sides with big oil because they line his pockets. He is dodering. cranky and anti- intellectual. He always talks about us winning the Iraq war. What have we won?!? I keep looking in the mail for my "we're winning in Iraq check"-nothing!

    August 20, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |

    The jobs are GONE! Wal-Mart pays less than 6.75 minimum wage.
    Two people working for minimum wage will have to camp out with
    their children. Are the National Parks open all night? Talk about homeless!!! And Wal-Mart makes Billions and Billions per year and
    complains when they have to dish out insurance for a car accident
    victim!!!! America, what is wrong?

    August 20, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  17. Donkey Party

    John McCain, ready to lead America (into World War 3) on day one (or sooner)...

    August 20, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  18. mary, VA

    OBAMA, 08

    August 20, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  19. Stop hating

    yeah we want to attack Iran thats why were refusing to sell war planes to Israel, who we all know is itching to attack Iran. Look no one Wants war, But sometimes its necessary. We can either be proactive or reactive. I guess you want us to be reactive, that way we look better to the rest of the world. Get this through your head, People (and Countries) dont like what they envy, and that is US.

    August 20, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  20. Spencer in LA

    Of Course he just said he want to consider a NEW DRAFT!! Are you kidding McShame? A New Draft? A Vietnam POW should no better.

    August 20, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. lynn

    this is true, and McCain has said he agrees we will need a draft. Watch out if McCain gets in there. He shoots from the hip just like Bush. We will have war, war, war.

    August 20, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. Mike P

    Duh, did anyone hear John boy today. He's all about reenacting the draft. Trigger Happy, Johnny!

    *Johnny Get Your Gun!*

    August 20, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  23. Denise Groves

    I agree. Look how he pounced on the Ga stuation

    August 20, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  24. Erika, KS

    Oh please, what a stretch!
    Knock it off with McCain is Bush! McCain has been around a lot longer than the presidency of George W Bush. That's experience that Obama does not have. McCain has been known to work with others. You Obamanites are sounding a bit foolish with this McSame, McWar, et al. McCain has been finding solutions to problems for decades without that solution being war. Obama hasn't been around in the Congress for but a few years. That's also a good thing for the American people. Enough of your crap already. Pure spin.

    August 20, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  25. linda from South Dakota

    as i said before, mccain mentioned he didnt care if we were in a 100 year war<<<< remember this people,, its him,,,, he chges like the wind,,,,,,,, wants votes and will do anything to get them,, i wont vote for him,, no way,, never,,,,, obama is way more honest than mccain,,, if you vote for mccain,, we are doomed for sure,, im movin

    August 20, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
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