September 12th, 2007
06:15 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain defends Petraeus, criticizes Clinton

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. John McCain continued to voice strong support for Gen. David Petraeus Wednesday, saying he is "respected and admired by literally everybody that serves under him." As for Sen. Hillary Clinton, well, he had other thoughts on his mind.

At a campaign stop in Des Moines, the Arizona Republican said the general is an "honorable and decent man who spent his entire life in the service of his nation."

But McCain, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, chose different words to describe Clinton, a New York Democrat who is seeking her party's presidential nomination.

"Senator Clinton said that General Petraeus in his presentation was... I quote a 'willing suspension of disbelief," McCain said. "First of all, it's a willing suspension of disbelief that Senator Clinton thinks she knows more than General Petraeus does about events on the ground in Iraq."

The Arizona senator also issued a sharply worded statement directed at Clinton for not renouncing a critical print ad of Petraeus that was paid for by the liberal advocacy group

"Senator Clinton said that believing General Petraeus' testimony requires a 'willing suspension of disbelief,'" McCain said in the statement released by his campaign. "I think it willingly suspends disbelief to not repudiate an advertisement run by a radical left wing organization that impugns and dishonors the integrity of a man who has served his nation with dedication all of his life."

The full page was published in Monday’s edition of the New York Times and showed a picture of Petraeus with the caption "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"

McCain's criticism of Clinton is not surprising as he entered his second day of his "No Surrender" tour. "We should not choose to lose in Iraq," McCain said in Iowa. "We cannot set a date for surrender, which would be a date for withdrawal from Iraq."

- CNN's Chris Welch in Iowa and CNN's Xuan Thai in Washington

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iowa • John McCain
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. anon, new york, NY

    The Petraeus report goes to great lengths to paint a picture of progress in Iraq, but the truth is a far different story. As the New York Times and the Washington Post have reported, the declining number of deaths in Iraq that General Petraeus cites depends on a few accounting tricks: like not counting a death as an assassination if you're shot in the front of the head, and not counting deaths by car bombs. Deaths are also done becasue of the past ethnic cleansing and refugee camps.

    So, what are we really doing in Iraq?

    We're building and maintaining permanent military bases from which our military will ensure a near-monopoly of the world's second-largest oil reserve. All this... for a small cadre of corporate fatheads, including the top members of Bush, Inc. The American taxpayer will foot the bill for security in Iraq ($2 billion PER DAY!) to provide a stable working environment for Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Halliburton, not to mention the dozens of corporations feeding off the military spend teat.

    Yeah, Halliburton is Cheny's (former) company. Bush and Chey's personal private financial interests are all in oil.

    September 13, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  2. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Anon – NY says,

    "Yeah, Halliburton is Cheny's (former) company. Bush and Chey's personal private financial interests are all in oil."

    – – – – –

    Anon – you should know:

    1) Halliburton was awarded the LOGCAP by President Clinton during the Bosnia Crisis, even though Halliburton wasn't the lowest bidder. Where was your outrage?

    2) Cheney divested himself from Halliburton and does not have any financial interest in their success or failure.

    But hey – don't let the truth interfere with your political agenda.

    September 13, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    John Mckain continues to be a bumbling gasbag who has lost touch with American. He is a poster boy for term limitations. This is not a partisan issue as it applies to "too long in the saddle"
    Dems and Repubs equally.

    September 13, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. Bill Both, Terrace, BC CANADA

    The Hillary haters are out in force...but then so are the McCain haters. It would be nice if we could just have a campaign on the issues and not have all this character assassination.

    I stand by my comments above regarding Senators McCain and Clinton and their statements.

    I would add that I lived in NY for most of Senator Clinton's tenure in the Senate, voted against her in 2000, but have been pleased with her performance. Also, she has been on the Senate Armed Services Committee the whole time and the military has generally given her high marks for her work there.

    Let's clear up a few misconceptions. First, Senator McCain DID attack, in the strongest terms, the Swift Boat ads and the attacks on Max Cleland. So he is entirely consistent on that score.

    As to Cheney, yes, he did retire...and was given a $20 million retirement package. His net worth, derived almost entirely from Halliburton, is estimated at between $30 and $100 million.

    That said, my perception is that Cheney and others were obsessed with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. It was that obsession rather than any desire for personal gain that drove them to pursue a mistaken policy against the evidence.

    September 13, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. Patrick, Bartlesville Oklahoma

    Thank you McCain! You remain one of the only politicians left in Washington who will tell the American people the truth regardless if we want to hear it or not. People who slam you without facts are despicable. Please don't post on here if don't actually "read" or bother to know what's going on in the world. Where to begin... Cheney doesn't profit from the war through Halliburton because he doesn't own any stock or sit on their board learn this people, the US doesn't get rich from Iraqi oil either. I don't even know how this rumor started, its almost like a lot of you think we are literally taking their oil and then selling it and keeping the profits. What Iraq does with their natural resources has nothing to do with us. If they choose to not produce one drop that's their decision. Learn your facts before posting on here.

    September 13, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  6. Sam, IA

    An honorable and decent General will be loyal to his commander in chief, period, Petraues may have not vetted his speech through the white house but it was a carbon copy of Bush's statements of the last 6 months. That does not require a suspension of belief. It only requires an understanding of military officers and thier subordinate role to the president. He knows in his heart that this patient is DOA.

    September 14, 2007 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  7. K.C. Richardson, Bradenton, Florida

    Muslims are afraid to admonish terrorists for fear of retaliation.

    Democrats running for president are afraid to admonish MoveOn.Org for fear of retaliation.

    What a sorry state of affairs.

    September 14, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    General Petraeus who wrote the Army's manuel on fighting insurgencies, wrote that you need one soldier for every 40 civilians. Therefore according to Petraeus' own manuel he needs 600,000 soldies to bring the insurgency under control. Now, that Bush has put General Petraeus in charge, Petraeus says that he can do the job with only 160,000 soldiers. I say that does indeed call for a "willing suspension of disbelief."

    September 20, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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