September 27th, 2007
02:00 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain says rivals lack experience to lead during war

McCain said he is the only candidate fit to lead during a war.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, called the Democratic presidential candidates' plans to withdraw troops from Iraq "very dangerous thinking" and said Thursday he would send more soldiers into the war-torn country.

"Democratic candidates for president will argue for the course of cutting our losses and withdrawing from the threat in the vain hope it will not follow us here," McCain said in a speech to the Hudson Institute in New York City. "I cannot join them in such wishful and very dangerous thinking. Peace at any price is an illusion, and its costs are always more tragic than the sacrifices victory requires."

McCain said he is the only candidate fit to lead during a war, since he has actual battle experience. He slammed his Republican rivals and said that "tough talk or managerial successes in the private sector aren't adequate" to make tough decisions in wartime.

The GOP hopeful said he would increase the level of Army and Marine troops in Iraq and Afghanistan from 750,000 to 900,000, which he said would cost billions of dollars annually. He said he would also create agencies to deal with public diplomacy to improve America's image in the world.

McCain also criticized Columbia University for allowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus while banning ROTC, a college-based army training program.

"I fear for our future when terrorist leaders are welcome at our most prestigious centers of learning, universities conceived to strengthen and nurture the ideals of Western liberal political thought, and young men and women who volunteered to risk their lives to defend those ideals are not," McCain said.

- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Tom, Mission V. CA

    I wasn't very sure of McCain, for what reasons I'm not really sure.

    Its becoming more an more apparent, however, than he is the best candidate in the field. He's candid, speaks the truth (unlike the overtly fake rhetoric out of most of the Democrats and the pandering of rudy and mitt) and makes a good case that for all the tough talkers, he has seved valiantly in the military. Despite being a POW, so he knows the horrors of war, he still believes in the fight against Islamic facsists.

    Its more apparent that he is dislike by some Republicans and Democrats because he talks the truth and in Washington, the truth hurts.

    September 27, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Peace is Better

    Senator McCain: With sincere respect for your service to our country, the point is that we don't want a president who will lead us in war, we want a president who will lead us out of war. You have such difficulty with this concept that I wonder if something in your Vietnam experience clouds your vision on this one. Please step back and look at this again. There is no military victory to be gained at this point. Let it go and let the troops come home.

    September 27, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  3. Farrell

    To Tom in Mission V. CA: I agree with you on McCain, he is the best candidate but he disappointed me when he started flip flopping. I am a registered democrat that understands not to vote for the party but who is the best candidate. I hope McCain stays on course because I will continue to listen to him as I believe many Americans will. I don't like his opinion about Iraq but he should know, he's served this country well.

    September 27, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. Mike, NY

    Wait, "Peace at any price is an illusion, and its costs are always more tragic than the sacrifices victory requires." So peace and victory are separate things? Does victory mean endless violence and war? (and that's an honest question, as neither McCain nor the President have bothered to define what victory is)

    I'd also love for one person-ONE PERSON-to explain how this "threat" will "follow us here." Terrorists have a pretty poor track record of attacking us on US soil, and if our government would actually pay attention to the intelligence they get, the "threat" is even further diminished.

    Seriously people, we're not gonna have carbombs and shopping malls terrorized in the US. Not by foreigners, at least. The only way that world would reach our country is if the people decide they've had enough of an oppressive government. At least, I hope Americans are still that pro-active. I'm starting to think the majority of us would be content seeing tanks roll down Main St., so long as it keeps us safe from the boogeymen.

    September 27, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. JKap, Schaumburg, IL

    What's that sign in the background of the picture say? "McCain you're Insane"? Haha

    The caption should read "McCain strolls toward oblivion."

    September 27, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. Izzy, Queens, New York

    Wait, let me get this straight, is this guy saying that if he becomes President of the United States of America, he would send more troops to Iraq, thus essentially escalating the war? If so, this guy needs to seriously check himself. The whole point is that everybody wants to see the war end (Apart from the hard-headed 33% who think Bush is doing an awesome job). The least you can do is to gradually begin to de-escalate it as Barack Obama has suggested. Anything other than that is not in alignment with common sense. This is why McCain's campaign is going down hill. With all due respect, he simply has no common sense.

    September 27, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. Sean, Central Florida

    Mike in NY wrote: "I'd also love for one person-ONE PERSON-to explain how this "threat" will "follow us here." Terrorists have a pretty poor track record of attacking us on US soil"

    What planet do you live on? 3,000 people who just went to work die within 3 HOURS and that is a poor track record? I hope you seriously don't think that way. Just wait till they set off a nuke handed to them from Iran and kill 50,000. Would that be a better "record" to have a reason to fight them Mr. Mike?

    September 27, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Danielle, Alexandria VA

    I like that McCain is honest and straight forward with the public. No one has to guess what he will do regarding the war in Iraq if he is elected. What worries me is that he DOES have military experience and still thinks it is possible to increase troop population in Iraq bu 150,000. The 20,000 increase that Bush pushed through required lengthening the average Army tour from 12 to 15 months. Marine are on a 6 month on, 6 month off rotation. How can the military be expected to deal with this kind of demand? That is just logistics, has he proposed a plan for funding these endeavors?

    September 27, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. Patrick, Bartlesville Oklahoma

    Thank you McCain for telling us the truth. I know many of us don't like the war or any war for that matter but realize that sometimes it’s necessary. I think people that are against the war should look at the war in two different ways, the reason to go to war and the reason to continue the war. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have been against the war from the beginning but now support it for different reasons. The facts on the ground have changed and it’s important to understand how leaving too early will leave us in even more danger than before the war even begun. If McCain had been president from the start of the war we would have had more troops on the ground to start with and in all likelihood be in a better position to leave now. As a left of center independent I will be supporting McCain in this election.

    September 27, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Bob Massy, Albuquerque, NM

    How can McCain follow Bush's failed policies despite being smeared in 2000 by Cal Rove? McCain would have been a sure winner of independents and democrats alike if he had taken just opposite stand. But, those who follow Bush are going to be doomed in 2008.

    September 27, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |

    All I see is the Republicans bashing the Democrats. The funny thing is I don't see any Republicans backing one of their own. That's odd. Could it be the Republicans realize that their political reign is almost over???

    September 27, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. laurinda,ny


    September 27, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. fedupwithourgov't

    Warmonger McCain has serious mental issues. His temper is well known.

    He wants MORE troops in Iraq. The draft will be back.

    He will hand our country over to the illegals.

    He had absolutely no spine in 2000 when Bush bashed his family so badly.

    He's a Bush clone so if you want more of the same vote for McCain.


    September 27, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. RB, from the bay state

    He's going nowhere.

    The wheels fell off his bus, and he's under it anyway.

    September 27, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  15. A few of us

    Is it just me or does this guy sound like he is ABSOLUTLY not going to let anyone sacrafice what so few have given up fo so many? He kinda sounds like a guy that ABSOLUTLY will not let anyone think votes are more important than that same sacrafice that is not ony important to every American, but billions world wide. He also kinda sounds like a guy that could ABSOLUTLY put people before politics.

    But in a world where ISOLATION seems to be winning over ABSOLUTION, I doubt many people will even listen to what he has to say.

    September 27, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  16. LB, Franklin Lakes, NJ

    So McCain wants to increase the troop level in Iraq up to 900,000 and then form agencies to improve America's image in the world.

    Does anyone see anything wrong with this?

    September 27, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  17. Shawn, Iowa City, Iowa

    The truth? He speaks the truth? Well let's see here.

    750,000-900,000 troops on the ground? We can't even keep 165,000 on the ground without a backdoor draft and forced contract extensions. Yet he doesn't tell us how he is going to get those numbers.

    A 500%-600% increase in troops means the same increase in funds necessary. Currently the bill is at 10 billion per month to fund this so called 'war'... where's the other 50-60 billion per month going to come from?

    He "...fear for our future when terrorist leaders are welcome at our most prestigious centers of learning, universities conceived to strengthen and nurture the ideals of Western liberal political thought..." Well, let's see here... since when are universities or colleges restricted to nurturing the ideals of Western liberal political thought? Where has McCain been for the past 150 or so years that colleges have been teaching subjects, subject matter, and thoughts/ideals from all world cultures, religions, and viewpoints?

    Some truth.

    September 27, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  18. Jim M. Gau; Hancock, MI

    It is more than apparent that the only current candidate from either party remotely qualified by experiance, remarkable insight on foreign policy, integrity & strength of character is John McCain. Short of Ronald Reagan & Jean Kirkpatrick, he is about the most "real thing" with real intelligence to come on the scene in quite awhile! Make mine McCain!!!

    September 27, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. Jim Boulter, Los Angeles, CA

    Can you say one dimensional candidate?

    This honorable man is over his head.


    September 27, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  20. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    McCain dreams of being a "wartime" president a bit too much.
    If there were no war, he'd find one.
    To achieve historical "greatness" in his mind, this is the way to go. It tempts him too greatly.

    I'd rather have a president who is ambitious on domestic policy, to reinvent American industry, education and health care. If war comes, deal with it, but don't be looking for it or starting it new places that aren't neccessary (like the republicans did with Iraq rather than finishing it properly in Afghanistan, where the 9-11 terrorists had their leadership.)

    September 28, 2007 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  21. Cindy

    How many wars ya gonna bring on when your dont have my vote,you and bush are alike

    September 28, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. c, Sacramento, CA

    "McCain says rivals lack experience to lead during war"

    This is tired rhetoric. Move on.

    I believe that true leaders don't need experience, they lead regardless of the situation or conditions.

    September 28, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Only third world countries with dictators need a military man as leader. America needs a seasoned politician who can restore its former finanical and political glory.

    Besides, the american voters have indicated that they don't want war, and the next president will be responsible to take our soldiers home.

    In other words, Mr. McCain, you are not what america wants for president.

    September 29, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |