August 24th, 2007
09:09 AM ET
13 years ago

McCain: Clinton flip flops on Iraq

McCain criticized Sen. Clinton's recent comments on Iraq.

(CNN)–Arizona Sen. John McCain says Sen. Hillary Clinton cannot have it both ways on the president's surge policy in Iraq.

Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has been taking some heat over her comments Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention where she said the president's Iraq policy was leading to success in "some areas."

On Wednesday, she offered a more critical, pointed assessment of Bush's strategy.

"The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution to the situation. It has failed to do so," the New York Democrat said. "The White House's report in September won’t change that. It is abundantly clear that there is no military solution to the sectarian fighting in Iraq. We need to stop refereeing the war, and start getting out now.”

In a statement released by his campaign on Thursday, McCain charged that Clinton was changing her stance "after taking heat from anti-war activists and her primary opponents."

"The fact that the New York senator can reverse her position on an issue of grave importance to our national security in a few days sends the wrong signal to our enemies in Iraq and our own troops on the ground," said McCain, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination. "We must continue to support General Petraeus and the new counterinsurgency campaign to give us the best chance to succeed. Following the path to begin an 'immediate withdrawal' would be a grave mistake."

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iraq • John McCain • Race to '08
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Poor John, and to think I would have been happy to vote for him. Alas his time has passed.

    Hillary really hasn't flip-flopped. John is splitting hairs here. Hillary is in favor of a stepped organized withdrawal from Iraq.

    Acknowledging gains made militarily by the surge does not contradict the fact that the Iraqi government has made little or no headway in stepping forward and taking control of their own country. One is exclusive from the other. U.S. troops could make great gains in Iraq but if the government isn't going to step forward and take control of their own country what good is it?

    I still won't vote for Hillary but John is wrong in his assessment.

    August 24, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. David Hilo HI

    For John McKerry to say anyone is flip-flopping is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black.

    August 24, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Steve, Arizona

    Hillary's remarks were far from "praise" in my book. What is worse: a politician who follows a failed foreign policy or adapts with the times and changes strategies and opinions?

    Does everyone else forget that McCain was one of the Keating Five? We in Arizona haven't.

    August 24, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Robert M. Reidy, Tillson, N.Y.

    You know... I just had a grand illusion – just suppose Hillary sucked up her pride and decided to run as Baraks VP after he wins the first primaries – Hillary could bring in the women and when they beat Rudy in the general by a landslide, Hillary could learn about leadership, creative problem solving and the new politics of authenticity at the feet of the master Barak Obama while Bill travels the world as the good will diplomat he already is !

    I know what your thinking – boy that Reidy is really trippen man!

    August 24, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. SP, Phoenix AZ

    Go home, John.

    August 24, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Marsha, Portland, OR

    Same argument used against Kerry. Boring.

    August 24, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. David, Los Angeles, CA

    Somebody tell John McKerry that his time has passed. He's selling played-out, tired old Goldwater politics, and guess what John? Nobody is buying. That ship sailed and sunk when you sold out by campaigning for Bush in 2004 and defending his obviously failed policies ever since. Go home!

    August 24, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. Anna, Woodbridge, VA

    When did reassessing a situation when new information comes to light and commenting on it, even when it is a view opposite the one you would normally have, become waffling?
    Kerry didn't waffle, nor did any of the other members of Congress who voted to grant war powers to Bush. They were voting on the information provided by the CIA and the White House about our imminent perial from Iraq's WMD. They changed their minds when the lies were revealed.

    August 24, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  9. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    spinstopper .. ever post a response to a post of yours that gets shredded?

    I didn't think so!

    August 24, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  10. KebD, Flint

    I actually agree with McCain on this point. (and that doesn't happen too often!) Hillary says what she needs to say to garner votes...and with whatever way the political wind is blowing at that moment.

    Hillary and Mitt Romney should run as a team. They wouldn't know if they were coming or going.

    August 24, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. ada asdas

    Its OK to flip flop when you were WRONG in the first place

    August 24, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  12. Anna, Woodbridge, VA

    Let me see–what's worse: (1) a candidate being called a flip-flopper for reassessing a fluid situation as new facts come in; or (2) a President mindlessly holding tightly to a doomed and ill-conceived policy irrespective of the changing facts? In some places, we would call the first "learning." In most places, we would call the latter "insanity."

    Of course, Bush was the tru flip-flopper. He wanted tax breaks because the economy he inherited was strong, then it went weak. He then wanted tax breaks to help the ailing economy. He wanted war with (in?) Iraq first because of WMD, then because Saddam was a "bad guy," then because we wanted a democratic Iraq, and finally because we can't afford to leave a weakened Iraq. One who holds to the same outcome but changes their justifications is as much of a flip-flopper.

    August 24, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  13. Yvan,Indio,CA,

    Mc Cain never flip flop on Irak! He supported a faling policy for 6 years, and still believe the war can be won. At least Hillary realize she was wrong ,and redefine her position on Irak. Mr Mc Cain just admit it that you and your buddies in the Republican Party were dead wrong on Irak.LOL

    August 24, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  14. Izzy, Queens New York

    All I can say is McCain is not in tune with reality. It is becoming more apparent that these republicans are pushing a dangerously divisive neo-con, racist, isolationist, war-mongering ideology. McCain is a joke.

    August 25, 2007 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  15. KD, Dallas, TX

    This is so well stated and represents my feelings as well, it's worth putting in here again....

    The back-n-forth bantering about Iraq is ridiculous as is the repeated 'we have to support our troops' statement. The facts dictate that all of that is just political rhetoric for attention and distraction. When we admit the war was falsely justified as part of a private agenda to benefit special interests and a select few, when we acknowledge that it doesn't matter if the surge works or doesn't when the Iraqi politicians simply continue their irresponsible infighting, then we can understand that our troops and our financial support are being used without benefit to us or even to the Iraqi people. It is all just politics gone bad and individuals using their offices and government resources for personal gain. To support that is criminal – bring the troops home!

    Bring the troops home. I don't support any candidate that voted to give Bush authority for this manipulated war. If I could see what was going on, why couldn't they? I never supported the war from the very beginning. Go Obama!

    August 25, 2007 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  16. Anna, Woodbridge, VA

    Thank You Steve in Arizona! When McCain first ran for President my husband kept saying positive things about him – until I brought up the savings and loan scandal. I'm glad McCain's past hasn't disappeared.

    August 25, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. Mari, Mesa, Arizona

    Look, John McCain is a fine person, well with foibles like the rest of us. BUT, he seems to be slipping in his ability to understand obvious nuances to the Clinton statement. I understood her statement very well when I took the trouble to read the sentence disputed by McCain. Of course, one would need to read it in its entirety and not crop it as McCain has no doubt done. I like McCain but he seems to be having problems. He allowed the Bush smear machine to undermine his run for the White House with that disgusting dirty trick about his adopted daughter. Now it seems he stoops to anything just to finally get the illusive presidency for himself.

    August 25, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. Leigh, PA

    Weathervane McCain,

    Go away!

    August 25, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  19. pl, at the UN, for a while.

    To Jon from Pittsburgh.

    I'll go further than you. Saying that "the surge is having some success in some areas" does not imply: '...Therefore let us stay longer and bring in even more American troops to widen our success'.

    Let us not forget the the borders configuration in the whole region was done by Churchill in 1945. He just pulled a ruler from the drawer, placed it upon a map of the the region and drew straight lines–and voila', new nations were created!!! Talking about idiocy!

    And one more thing...a few years ago, referring to Near East peace policy and border drawing President Bush enunciated the doctrine of the need to "recognize the situation on the ground". I ask: 'why in heaven should the same doctrine not apply to Iraq now'?

    August 29, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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