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. Independent

    Obama solution-Give a flowerily speech!

    August 20, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  2. Frank

    Why do I sense desperation in the Obama camp?

    August 20, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  3. joe m

    this kind of tactic is low and will nto benefit obama. it taints him as a candidate and fosters the perception that while obama is quick to talk about moving away from the politics of personal destruction, he is willing to stoop to such levels to gain an advantage. to say mccain is more willing to go to war is pure speculation and cannot be deduced from the stance he has taken or the rhetoric he has used. let's face it, no one can predict what action either mccain or obama would take when faced with making the decision to go to war or not. obama needs to put a stop to these kinds of statements from anyone in his camp. the more he allows it, the more he validates criticism that he talks the talk, but won't walk the walk.

    August 20, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  4. Shannon in California

    Ms. Rice forgot to mention that McCain agreed with a woman in his audience today who said "we would have to bring back tthe draft."

    August 20, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. Roy

    This election is suppose to be about the future of the United States of America and it’s People. All I hear is confusion and misleading information. America needs us to take CARE of her. We need to get serious and rebuild this country. Furthermore gaining back our integrity, and getting out of the WAR that has been destroying us. Retraining and retooling our people showing respect for each other also the other nations around us. It is not about McCain or Obama, It is not about color, hate, revenge, put downs, NO it is about choosing the RIGHT MAN for the job of President. We do not need to spend BILLIONS on an ILLISION that belong to George & Chaney. For God sake let us do what is important to the future of this country. Working together we can accomplish anything Stop the HATE and be the great nation we can be. Peace, Love, and Understanding. Not WAR or lies and distortion of the truth. CNN can do much to help bring this about do not divide us. Coming together is of more benefit than division…

    August 20, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  6. Peter (CA)

    I'm with you P.

    This is a no-brainer. McCain looks for military solutions. That is how he was trained, that is what he understands. Sometimes it is appropriate (Afghanistan after 09/11) but often it is not. Yes, I am starting with Iraq. But tough words on Iran also. McCain calling for NATO troops in Georgia (maybe because his advisor promised Georgia the US would help them in return for all of the lobbying money he got from Georgia).

    In a civilized world with nuclear weapons, are we set to go in cowboy style at all costs? Negotiations have seemed to work (Libya, North Korea, etc). It is not a perfect solution but it is a more reasonable one. Why not use judgment instead of force?

    August 20, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  7. No Socialist, NY

    Painting McCain as a warmonger is such a fabulous way to show your gratitude to someone who served and suffered in the military service to protect your freedom. So, do you think all of our military personel deserve this kind of "thanks"? Or is this kind of "special treatment just for POWs.This garbage coming from Obama's advisors clearly shows the type of mentality they possess. We can do without this type of disrespect for those who serve to protect us. McCain/Rice 2008.

    August 20, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. oldsoldierboy

    I'm amazed at how short a lot of peoples memories are. Tonight over 4000 troops lay in a cold, lonely, and mostly forgotton grave. Their commitment to service exploited for whatever mad dreams Bush and his cohorts wanted to fulfill. Saddam not Bin Laden the object of their desire.

    The republicans have tinkered with just about every aspect of our constitution, our rights (terror watch list & monitored phone calls), the branches (Gonzalez scandal), executive privilege (Karl Rove, Skooter Libby), CIA (Valerie Plame & fake documents to justify war). Yet despite it all the repubs have a legitimate chance to win this election and that is unthinkable considering what we have been through as a nation.

    August 20, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. Tom

    Bush's father started all this. He started a war in Iraq and "wrapped it up in the flag." But people were smart enough not to re-elect him.

    The Republicans ever since have played on the fear, anxiety, and ignorance of the American people to get elected and re-elected. And so many people are still stupid enough that are still able to keep doing it.

    The last thing the US needs now is another war. We can't support the one war we have going now. And McCain sings what – "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran?"

    What will happen if these clowns start another war? Kids aren't lining up to join the army, are they? So will we have a draft? Is this what we want? A country at multiple wars with no end in sight?

    "Those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it" the saying goes. See through this.

    August 20, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  10. VOICE OF REASON

    PERHAPS ONE COULD BE CALLED MORE EAGER FOR WAR IF INDEED HE WERE MORE PREPARED FOR THE GLOOMY PROSPECT THAT IT LOOMS AMONG HUMANITY CONSTANTLY. ITS DIFFERENT THAN THE RUN THE OTHER WAY SCREAMING LIKE A BANSHEE WHEN YOU DONT KNOW WHAT WAR IS. AND NO A LITTLE TIFF ABOUT ONES WIFES MOUTHINESS IN THE PRESS DOES NOT CONTITUTE COMBAT EXPERIENCE. PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK IF ALGORE HAD WON IN 2000 OSAMA BIB LADIN WOULD HAVE CALLED OFF HIS PLANS. STUPIDITY IS AN INHERITED GENETIC CONDITION. FACE IT IF POOTY TOOT SHOOTS AT US YOU BETTER HOPE OBAMA IS HOME IN CHICAGO WITH WIFEYKINS. THESE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD DONT THINK MUCH OF HUMAN LIFE, LIBERTY, OR THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. ITS ABOUT DOMINATION. LIBERAL PET THE KITTY CAT THINKING WILL NOT STAND UP IN THE FACE OF COMMUNIST AGGRESSION. YOU CANT SMOKE MORE OF THAT FOG WEED AND THINK THE WORLD IS A SAFE PLACE. REFER TO STUPIDITY DIAGNOSIS. ITS A SHAME THE GENERATION THAT SAVED THE WORLD GAVE BIRTH TO SOME OF THESE LIBERAL SPAWN.

    August 20, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  11. No Socialist, NY

    Painting McCain as a warmonger is such a fabulous way to show your gratitude to someone who served and suffered in the military service to protect your freedom. So, do you think all of our military personel deserve this kind of "thanks"? Or is this kind of "special treatment just for POWs.This garbage coming from Obama's advisors clearly shows the type of mentality they possess. We can do without this type of disrespect for those who serve to protect us. McCain/Condi Rice 2008.

    August 20, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  12. Dylan from Minneapolis

    I don't ever mean to call anyone stupid even if i may think it in the back of my head. But seriously America, we're falling into the same trap that we fell into in 2004. Remember that? Yeah, IT WAS 4 YEARS AGO! We don't need any war anymore...let's progress and move forward before it's too late.

    August 20, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  13. Michael

    President Bush is working with the Iraq government on an agreement that would pull all US troops out of Iraq by 2011. Democrats will no doudt find this to be bad news.

    McCain is sure to be dissapointed, he wanted to stay there 100 years. Pretty funny, when you think about it. McCain would at best be alive for only the next what 50 to 60 years, make him about 120 to 130 years old. He was never going to live long enough to see US troops there for 100 years, in fact who would have.

    Now will someone please ask Obama how long he plans to keep the troops he wants to move from Iraq to Afganistan in Afganistan. I am expecting time tables please. How many US troops does he expect will be killed and wounded and how much is this going to cost. I would like these estimates before he takes office if you don't mind.

    August 20, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  14. J.C.

    Now it hits the fan when the polls are getting so close.
    I guess election 2008 starts from today.

    However, one thing I can be sure is that McCain is not for wars. He is even against waterboarding. He has lived torture for years and survived a horrible war. He knows what wars can do to people. Why would he want to do that? The reason why he barks so loud is to tell Russians how much he doesn't want wars. He could sense the danger of wars on the horizon so he had to stop it cold.

    Obama doesn't have the experience McCain had so he took a different approach for the Georgia-Russia conflict. We, the voters, decide which approach seems more logical. However, to say McCain is for wars is like saying Obama is not patriotic. Both are nonsense. Let's quit this kind of nonsense and please give us more constructive proposals on what you will do for the people. Thanks!

    August 20, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  15. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    McCain solution to any problem is WAR – I'm sick of war, I need a job and good health care and good benefits for my children.

    Obama all the way!!!!!

    August 20, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  16. Slick

    McSimpleton answers from flip floppin McCain. "We gotta drill and drill now!" That's a plan to fix the economy and get us off oil???? "The surge is working!" To do what???? Bring down U.S. deaths or give the Irag people back their country???? Please McSimpleton McCain. Give us something more than tag lines and a swagger. We have one of those clowns in the big painted house now. Hope Obama and the dems hit the GOP hard this time. Take the gloves off and knock Bush, Rove, McCain on their butts or else the U.S. dollar will slid to the value of the peso.

    August 20, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  17. Pedeen

    Mcain represents the past! we need someone who understands economics bearing in mind that, India and China poses the greatest economic threat to the entire American fraternity in the 21st century global economy. All our efforts are winning unnecesssary war while China is directing its effort on oil explorations in Africa, stock piling crude oil for the future use and yet you choose the politics of the past?? no wonder Humans never learns from history!!

    August 20, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  18. Independant Thinker

    Try again Obama.

    McCain has far more at stake than most. He has 1 son in Iraq and another fixing to go. If anything, he will avoid another conflict. Remember, McCain challenge Reagan on the troops in Lebenon. And he also is responsible for the surge to protect our troops.

    August 20, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  19. You're in The Army Now

    Also Powell lives in Northern Virginia

    August 20, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain like Bush is not the most intelligent person but they are bullies and use Americas resources for their tactics of fear and war. McCain is a walking talking time bomb ticking to go off and if anybody thinks Bush was wait until McCain is given the opportunity. McCain is dangerous for our country and there will be no peace. McCain has never talked about peace and if that is not a threat I don't know what America needs to wake up. Bush gave us a wake up call and now McCain wants to silence us again., No more Karl Rove tactics that McCain is using and in the name of God, please no John McCain.

    August 20, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  21. geen

    I'm not sure he is more eager for war than the Moron's regime, but it can be infered from the moron's poodle McGoofy that he is not any less inclined to war–but, being objective here, let us not forget that, in maybe just a hint of Nixonian proclamations..remember..."if I'm elected, I will end the vietnam war" (that, of course, was before he sent another 40,000 young americans to their deaths for nothing:(, Barack has said that he will also bring the troops illegally sent to Invade and occupy Iraq within 16 months. Let us think about this...at a rater of one a day (and I am not talking multiple vitamins here). at the current rate (as of 8.10.08) that means, that, within 16 months..another 480 americans will have died for nothing.....and...just another short point here...since the Moron's escalation of the war in march of 07, eight months over the course of that escalation that the moron's poodles extol, the deaths of american soldiers has been greater thant he month before! go to icasualties. org for the true cost of this war....go to it every day...publish the info...read the info...wear it proudly on buttons or t shirts..or bumper stickers..the real cost of this war which McGoofy clearly wants to continue and obama doesn't, apparently, seem to thingk is the MAJOR issue and the cause of EVERY problem we currently have with the economy–and, under his agenda, which is better that McGoofy's is still unacceptable to those who fought in another illegal and genocidal war (that would be Vietnam)

    August 20, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  22. Independant Thinker

    There sure is a lot of fear mongering by the democRATs claiming that if we elect McCain that it will cause WWIII. And the democRATs blame the republicans for fear mongering. I think that the democRATs need to look at themselves first.

    August 20, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  23. geen

    oh...just another comment here...every one interested in that folly which is and has become the Moron's fascination with Iraq should read Barabar Tuchman's The March of Folly...just substitute the Moron's name (bush) for Johnson, and Iraq for Vietnam...and also do the same for Johnson's speech and Johns Hopkins..substitute the Moron's name for Johnson and iraq for vietnam....enlighten yerselves...learn..read....!

    August 20, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  24. Dr. Fernandez

    I watched the Suzanne Malveau "Obama Revealed" tonight and it was nauseating I had to write this note.
    It is very obvious with the adoring gleam in her eyes when speaking with Obama that she is in awe or in love !
    They chose Obama surrogates like Tom Daschle to bad mouth McCain for instance.
    This program was so one sided and it shows CNN's support for Obama. I quit watching CNN and turned to FOX news, at least they are fair in presenting both sides of the candidates.
    I am a long time democrat and for the first time, I am voting for a Republican for President. I do not trust Obama. The Malveau show just convinced me further.

    August 20, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The reason why Giuliani keeps opening his mouth because he and McCain are two of a kind. You cannot validate one without validating the other.

    August 20, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
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