Would there have been fewer troops in Iraq if McCain won the presidency in 2000?
July 18th, 2014
03:30 AM ET
3 months ago

Would there have been fewer troops in Iraq if McCain won the presidency in 2000?

CNN and National Journal joined forces Thursday to explore the 2014 midterm elections at the first "Politics on Tap" event in Washington D.C. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, joined CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brianna Keilar and Peter Hamby, as well as National Journal’s Ron Fournier, and Michelle Cottle for the private gathering. Check out some of the best highlights from the event on our Storify page.

(CNN) – It’s hard to imagine that one of the most vocal supporters of sending troops to Iraq during the 2007 surge, now says that in hindsight, he would’ve acted differently if he were in charge.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that had he won the presidential election in 2000, he would’ve been more hesitant about sending troops to Iraq.

“You’ll find this surprising, but I think I would’ve been more reluctant to commit American troops,” McCain told CNN’s Jake Tapper and Ron Fournier of the National Journal at a “Politics on Tap” event in Washington on Thursday.

As a Senator, McCain voted in favor of sending troops to Iraq in 2007 and became a leading advocate for committing additional troops to the region. He also voted against requiring minimum periods between troop deployments that year.

Despite his change of position now, the Arizona Republican and former prisoner of war says that doesn’t have regrets about voting in favor of the surge in 2007.

“If presented with that same evidence today, I would vote the same way,” McCain said. “I respected and trusted the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. But it’s obvious now, in retrospect, that Saddam Hussein – although he had used weapons of mass destruction – did not have the inventory that we seem to have evidence of. Which now looking back on it, with the benefit of hindsight, (the evidence) was very flimsy.”

While McCain says he wouldn’t have changed his vote, he does feel that he would have been more cautious about accepting the evidence presented by the administration at that time.

“I think I would have (voted the same way), but I think I would have challenged the evidence with greater scrutiny,” McCain said.  “I think that with my background with the military and knowledge of national security with these issues that I hope that I would have been able to see through the evidence that was presented at the time.”


Filed under: Arizona • John McCain • Republican
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Malory Archer

    Rudy NYC

    This was a minor issue that was quickly laid to rest by the GOP in the 2008 race. Yes, McCain was born in Panama, but he was born in a military hospital on a U.S. military base, which is technically U.S. soil. That argument is what just barely kept the birther crowd under control before the election. After the election, you know the rest of the story.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Actually, the military hospital hadn't been completed and wasn't open to servicemembers when geezer was born, so if he was born in Panama, it wasn't on a military installation.
    =============================================================
    Even if he has actually born in a local Panamanian hospital, he was still automatically *eligible* for U.S. citizenship. all that his parents had to do would be to file the proper paperwork to claim his citizenship. Filing the paperwork is something the Sen. Cruz has bragged about never having done because he was "automatically a U.S. citizen", which is totally absurd.

    In order for someone to be a U.S. citizen, there must a record of your birth somewhere in U.S. records. When you are born in a foreign country, there is no record of your existence in U.S. records, not until your parent applies for it.

    July 18, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. Bill from GA

    " Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that had he won the presidential election in 2000, he would’ve been more hesitant about sending troops to Iraq "

    It is hard to imagine how almost ANYONE would have seen the events of that time necessitating the sending of troops to Iraq.

    Only the combination of Bush, with his dad's war to carry on, and the idiot cheney with his (If I say what should be said here, I KNOW it won't get in), let's just say war-mongering ways. Anyway, W and cheney are probably the only combination of Prez-VP that would have resulted in the lawless invasion of Iraq, and the two should be brought to justice for their criminal deeds.

    July 18, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. jeremy

    mccain needs to just go sit down with his old self and the rest of the old congressman still stuck in the 60's

    July 18, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. AZ Dem

    Saw this post!

    The GOP Solution

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    July 18, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. ritmocojo

    "If John McCain had won the 2008 election..."

    What? Vice President Sarah Palin would've told him to send more troops and he would've done so.

    Boy we dodged that bullet didn't we folks? Sarah Palin is a female Dick Cheney sans Cheney's education.

    July 18, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. Ol' Yeller

    " Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that had he won the presidential election in 2000, he would’ve been more hesitant about sending troops to Iraq "

    He went on to ramble about how could he justify leaving troops in Iraq when they were needed in Iran, North Korea, Holland, Russia, Syria, Honduras, France, Pakistan, Vermont, the Moon, and all the other countries on his wish list to invade, bomb, or otherwise strike militarily?

    Were it up to McCain, we would be militarily involved FOREVER in every region, state, town, house, and knothole in the world. That is and has always been his solution to everything.... send the military!

    July 18, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. ritmocojo

    "Hindsight is 20/20 vision."

    July 18, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. an Iowan

    Actually he is right. there would have been less troops in Iraq because we would have gone to war with Iran and Russia if Bozo the Clown was elected as Prez, instead of launching an unprovoked attack on Iraq so Big Oil could get a piece of that Iraqi oil!

    July 18, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. dogg

    Of course there would be fewer troops in Iraq. You only need four to guard the four corners of a parking lot.

    July 18, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Seems like McCain wants to indulge in hindsight...to what end??
    Shouldn't he deal with his own the comment that we should 'leave troops in Iraq for 100 years if need be"...has he not learned that democracy cannot be exported to populations that have evolved from tribal cultures and influenced by Islamists?? How many American lives down the drain for that shock & awe idiocy??

    July 18, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Thomas

    We would have had even more Iraqi refuges if John McCain had been in charge .

    And we could have ended up with Sarah Palin if Big Bad John choked on a chic hen bone .

    July 18, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Thomas

    We would have had even more Iraqi refuges if John McCain had been in charge .

    And we could have ended up with Sarah Palin if Big Bad John choked on a chic hen bone .
    ----------------------------------
    TRY THIS:
    ---------------
    Walk into that popular fast food joint that sells fried yard bird. Take a good look at the menu. Look for the word "chicken" on the menu. You won't find it where you expect to find it. They sell "pieces", "legs", "breasts" and "wings" but not "chicken", except for when IT has been processed into something else. I'm serious. Check it out for yourself.

    July 18, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. Lisa P

    Trick question - if McCain had won in 2000 then Darth Cheney would have never been in a position to set up his super special intel cherry-picking unit and we would never have gone to war with Iraq at all. Who knows? Maybe McCain would have even paid attention to the memo about Bin Laden and planes, the WTC twin towers would still be standing and we wouldn't have invaded Afghanistan either. Can you imagine what this country would have looked like with a strong economy and six years of peace instead of six years of fear, bluster and unfunded military adventurism? I might have even voted for the guy. McCain 2008 was quite a different critter, a creature of the failed policies of an increasingly desperate and shrill right wing.

    July 18, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. JOHN

    ...politics aside ,it's always interesting to see which McCain shows up on any given day...........

    July 18, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. len

    BS.....
    So happy he lost in 2008!
    All you Obama bashers, troops are home, ending Afghanistan !!

    July 18, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. Hooper

    NO.

    July 18, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  17. steve

    Its horrible thinking this crank as president and the bubblehead vice president on the heels of the previous administration. Sometimes lucky things happen.

    July 19, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
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