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. NC

    Dont think that hes not thinking about Russia too,the world had better watch out because this old man may think hes back during the Vietnam era and he wants to BOMB,BOMB,BOMB

    August 20, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  2. Alice in Florida

    Obozo, just please go away – go on vacation, hide from debates somewhere, go to Germany

    Just go away, and take your hideously ugly racist wife with you

    You're a stuttering clown when your teleprompter isn't there, and we all know that now

    You have become a very unfunny joke – the only time you're funny is when you're being yourself – the stuttering clown

    And THEN, you even manage to make this former life-long Democrat now Independent for McCain smile

    I can't smile about anything else about the Democrats anymore

    I'll smile in 2012, though

    And you'll be nothing but a reminder of how dumb the DNC was 🙂

    We'll vomit you right back in their faces come November

    .......That's what happens when things like you get shoved down our throats by the likes of Dean the Scream and Nancy the Crow

    August 20, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  3. Go obama

    A warmonger lives ,thinks ,dreams WAR they don't even need an excuse to attack they even vote for war without a reason and bomb first .
    Every thing he talks about is connected to wanting war ,threatening for war .He has no negotiation skill or interested in negotiating to reach for peace and avoid war his blood has war running in his veins .

    Can you imagine if on all the streets and neighborhoods if for the many things that happen that we don't all agree on but we figure how to change and agree instead of fight if we used McBushes policy for war mongering and using McBushes attitude "we ann't gonna stand for this I will shoot " what would happen in this country.
    What does it take to jar people into realizing 8 years of this hell in Iraq
    we want peace and we will not have it with another Mc War monger.

    August 20, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  4. Raymond Duke

    Well I would try it to if I was a chicken crap liberal. I do not see how this affects you liberals or your Black Messiah and friends. It is an all volunteer army. I am one of them veterans and I would say he would be the last to want to go to war. But you do what you have to for your country. Oh I see the problem. He might accidently start the draft and you liberals might have to actually do something for your country rather then running it down. I think it would be good training for you. Of course you could do like all them wussy liberals did during Vietnam ; run off to Canada. Whoops I forgot . They sent some back (DA@N).

    August 20, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  5. Chickenhawk

    McCain will bring back the draft.
    PUMA's your kids are going first, right?

    August 20, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  6. Why not?

    How many wars does john mccain want to start?

    Google his town hall today – he didn't disagree that we can't "chase bin laden to the gates of hell" without reinstating the draft. It's must see.


    August 20, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  7. lovable liberal

    McCain reminds me of Khrushchev, full of bluster and risk but in the long run a loser for America.

    August 20, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  8. banderson

    This comment is for Senator Obama's advisors, YOU ARE RIGHT ON. Hit John McCain where it hurts, this guy wants to fight the last war. Go after him. Let the American public know that this guy will have their children fighting WWIII while his rich friends dogde the draft.

    August 20, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  9. jason, tx

    He's a Hawk and will cause more Americans to die in battle! McCain should never be given access to Presidential powers. NEVER!

    August 20, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  10. KenB, MI

    Political support from the hill should now be coming out..supporters hitting the talk show circuit and appearing as news pundits on the various cable news programs – show the party support during the convention..some magazine ads and convention coverage...its like releasing chaff...get your opponent fixed on the countermeasure...let the opponent deal with defense not from negative attacks but from a bombardment of offense and countermeasures...then hit him with a negative push...bunker buster...he'll be so off balance going into the RNC it will look like an Ali shuffle and a straight right. Obama '08

    August 20, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  11. maroonracoon

    PEOPLE keep in mind a President can not declare war alone
    War is an ACT of Congress
    If you really want change
    Then you need your change your congressmen/women, for they are the ones who approve or disapprove war, economic policies, taxes, and their raises
    If want to see were the tax money is going then Just look at some of there salaries
    Obama or McCain ?
    Well here is what we give ourselves for presidential candidates
    A warmonger and someone who makes who promises things that he alone cannot accomplish
    For once I would like for Obama to say something that he can fulfill
    My opinion neither deserve the position of president
    For those Obama Die Hards i advise reading his books and see if your opions change at all

    August 20, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  12. maroonracoon


    August 20, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  13. observer

    Exactly, we invaded a soverign nation – Iraq and our president lied and lied and McSane enbleded him by voting to go to war!, the same old man McSame seems to have forgotten that when he stated that Russia was engaging in barbaric acts in the 21 centry – hello!!!!!! memory loss old guy?

    We have lost our leverage and our military capacity is stretched thin due to IRAQ, and you know what ,Russia knows it!

    You cannot teach an old dog new trick, step aside old man, and retire to your riches in Arizona. The country is in desparate shape and not a place for an old man!

    August 20, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  14. shahid

    Eager for war or not is not the question that these guys try to distort the fact. It is just unwise to stop the campaign in Iraq and Afganistan, even a real dump knows this by now – it's NOT just practical. Be real. So, stop twisting things around to favor BO, your saviour!!!

    August 20, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. Walters Takoma park

    Mcbush think talking tough is the way forward but unfortunately the invaision of Iraq on a false promise has only damage our standing in the world, now Russia has an opportunity to invade another soverign nation just like Mcbush Iraq war, he will need a draft if since we are forcing our way into a country that has ask us to leave by 2010, but because Mcbush and this administration will prefer to sacrifice soldiers lives than to agree with senator Obama who had it right from the beginning,

    August 20, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. Moon Maiden from Lake Michigan

    To All Of you that see the truth :
    Now go out on Nov 6 and vote Obama
    He is the hope for our country, our childern and our saniety.

    August 20, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  17. McCain, no he can't!

    When you are a prisoner of war for 5 years, one of two things happen. Either you become sympathetic to the struggles of veterans and avoid war at all costs, or since you've suffered you become cold, and care less about the human cost and become a warmonger.

    McCain chose to be Mr. War.

    August 20, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  18. Jose

    I don't understand how a honest individual like McCain claim himself to be could only speak words that hurts so much.
    McCain still does not believe Barack is a American. He sounds very racist.

    August 20, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  19. Sue

    Could someone please, PLEASE explain to me why I only heard the story about McCain's positive position on the reinstatement of the draft on MSNBC???

    Isn't his agreement with that townhall questioner news worthy???

    I certainly think it is, and that it shows just how much of a war-mongerer McCain is and will be.

    I just don't understand what's happening anymore, I guess.

    August 20, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  20. Jose

    How about Barack Obama – Andrew Bacevich

    August 20, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  21. Ken Orange County

    Scott Tucson, did you mean to say George W Bush in your post? You Republicans simply can't handle the thought of electing a truly intelligent President. We need a smart guy like Obama to fix all the destruction W has done around the world (economic or otherwise), not another tough guy like McCain, who knows nothing BUT war. Yes, I'll take Obama's rational approach over a Vietnam veteran with post traumatic stress disorder who is just itching to drop some more bombs. Barack Obama was the first black President of Harvard's Law Review and is trained to see both sides of an issue on almost every aspect of society. By his own admission, McCain doesn't even know how to use a computer. I'm sorry but we need an energizing intellect like Obama, not another tough guy who thinks he already knows the answers to everything when he doesn't.

    August 20, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  22. David Peter

    Being a POW (still, I know), McCain is full of pure hate, vengance, and bloodlust. That is NOT who we need as president.

    August 20, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  23. Remy

    Is the Christianity all about WAR and murdering people anywhere?
    McCain's Christian allies must answer this question!

    Democracy, equal rights or any other civilised issues are not at the table of McCain!

    August 20, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  24. Jose

    pro-life and warriors ? – It does not seem clear.

    August 20, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  25. Craig S., Los Angeles CA

    Scott Tucson, I guess you think that the churlish "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" is more eloquent than what Obama has to say. A century of "experience" can't make up for cocnsistently bad judgement.

    August 20, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
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